LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said before Sunday's 11-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies that he wasn't ready to drop Dee Gordon from the leadoff spot -- this despite the fact Gordon is hitless in his past 14 at-bats with five strikeouts and has a .250 on-base percentage for the season -- because he really doesn't have any other ideal candidates to hit there.
There may, however, be a solution on the way.
Elian Herrera, who has mostly been playing second base at Triple-A Albuquerque but can play shortstop and is hitting .358 with a .381 on-base percentage and nine stolen bases in 12 attempts, may be headed for the majors, a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com on the condition of anonymity. A second source said late Sunday night that Herrera wasn't headed to the majors ``as of right now,'' which would seem to indicate Herrera is in a holding pattern of sorts while awaiting the results of an MRI exam that All-Star center fielder Matt Kemp is scheduled to undergo Monday on his left hamstring.
Herrera, who normally bats leadoff for the Isotopes, was conspicuously absent from the starting lineup for their game on Sunday night at Salt Lake.
If Kemp has to go onto the 15-day disabled list to allow his hamstring time to heal properly -- it has bothered him for more than a week now -- reserve outfielder Tony Gwynn likely would get the bulk of the playing time in center. Gwynn, then, potentially could become the team's primary leadoff hitter if Mattingly wants to drop Gordon lower in the order until Gordon can emerge from his offensive struggles.
Herrera, 27, is a switch hitter whom the Dodgers signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2003 and now has spent almost a decade in the organization. He has never so much as been invited to big league spring training, but the coaching staff has some familiarity with him because he has been borrowed from minor league camp to fill out the roster for an occasional Cactus League game.
He had never put up eye-popping numbers until the second half of last season, when he hit .307 for Double-A Chattanooga (.278 overall) and .375 in August, but so far, he has been able to carry that breakout performance into his first full season at Triple-A.