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Understanding why Doug Mientkiewicz needs to come back to camp

March 29, 2010 |  2:25 pm

Dodgers_300 It’s understandable. Really, this is one of those where you can easily see both points of view.

Garret Anderson has beaten out Doug Mientkiewicz as the Dodgers’ primary left-handed pinch hitter. Manager Joe Torre gave Mientkiewicz the news on Friday. He also offered him a role as a coach.

At which time Mientkiewicz left camp and assumed he was going to be released. He still wants to play.

Only the Dodgers did not release him and don’t plan to until they have to on Friday.

Which upset Mientkiewicz, who felt it would inhibit his ability to latch on with another club.

But Anderson is 37, an age when injury can strike at any time. And if he does get hurt, then the Dodgers go back to Mientkiewicz. So they’re playing it smart and keeping him as long as they can.

"I'm not upset at that decision," Mientkiewicz told Ken Gurnick at dodgers.com. "I'm upset with what's transpired since then.

"I understood from the minute they signed Garret. I appreciated the chance and walked away quietly, figuring it was a no-brainer that I'd get my release. They found somebody better. When Joe told me, I assumed I was released. Next thing I know, my agent calls and says the club is calling me unprofessional for leaving. So I'm not bitter or pouting, but I feel like 'The Shawshank Redemption.' Let me go. No place I'd rather be than with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But I'm not one of the 25. I'm OK with that. I get it. Then, why hold on to me?’’

Mientkiewicz, however, should know all about sudden injury. He made the club last year as the left-handed pinch hitter, but two weeks into the season, he dislocated his shoulder sliding into second.

This year he had the misfortune of the market driving Anderson’s price down until he became affordable to the Dodgers. Anderson (.333) has performed well this spring.

So has Mientkiewicz (.292), enough that he understandably believes he can still play.

It’s all understandable. That the Dodgers granted the release requests of Eric Gagne and Angel Berroa is not relevant, because neither figured in their plans under any circumstance.

Not so with Mientkiewicz, who remains under contract with the Dodgers. He needs to honor that contract and report back to camp.

The Dodgers and Mientkiewicz have always had a good relationship, so you hope they get together. We’re talking five days. Meanwhile, Mientkiewicz can stay sharp.

And be ready should he then be able sign elsewhere.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Doug Mientkiewicz. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times.

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