Dodgers News: Kiké Hernandez Focused On Improving Swing

Dodgers News: Kiké Hernandez Focused On Improving Swing

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Kiké Hernandez, Dodgers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Dodgers packaged Dee Gordon in a seven-player trade with the Miami Marlins in December 2014 most figured relief pitcher Chris Hatcher would make an immediate impact in Los Angeles.

Hatcher saw plenty of action in his first season with the Dodgers, though to mixed results, prior to landing on the disabled list with an oblique injury. After joining the club at the end of April, utility man Kiké Hernandez became a fixture with the 2015 Dodgers.

Hernandez’s versatility meshed well with his ability to hit left-handed pitching. He hit .307/.346/.490 with 12 doubles, seven home runs and 22 RBI in the most extensive Major League experience of his young career — 76 games.

However, last season yielded drastically different results. Hernandez remained capable of playing multiple positions, but he scuffled at the plate.

Now essentially locked in a battle with Charlie Culberson and Chris Taylor for a spot on the Opening Day roster, Hernandez told Alanna Rizzo during SportsNet LA’s broadcast on Saturday that he’s focused on recapturing his success at the plate:

“I’m working hard to get my swing back to where it was two years ago. I’m working with the hitting coaches on fixing my swing path and correcting my posture. The hardest thing is taking something new into the game. Sometimes it’s hard because you want to see results right away. So far, I feel good doing what I’m doing. Hopefully it keeps working.”

Hernandez finished last season batting a lowly .190/.283/.324 with eight doubles, seven home runs and 18 RBI over 109 games. His .359 wOBA, 133 wRC+ and 131 OPS+ from 2015 plummeted to .270, 68 and 66, respectively.

One explanation for the drop in production last season and domino effect with his swing may be the ribcage injury Hernandez attempted to play through. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list June 29 and didn’t return until July 31.

Hernandez was not included on the Dodgers roster for the National League Division Series, but was added for the NL Championship Series. He appeared in all six NLCS games, made two starts, but went hitless in 11 plate appearances with three walks and two strikeouts.

This spring, the 25-year-old is 3-for-16 with three walks and three strikeouts in six games. Although the results leave plenty to be desired, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has noted improvement from Hernandez at the plate, even in empty at-bats.

Hernandez is leaving camp Sunday to join Puerto Rico for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Whether he begins the 2017 season with the Dodgers or Triple-A Oklahoma City remains largely unknown.