Dave Hansen Rejoins Dodgers

Most of the signings this time of year are low-risk, high-reward players or a complementary piece to a roster. The Dodgers' recent track record has been mixed with these signings. They snagged second baseman Orlando Hudson after spring training began in 2009 and right-hander Vicente Padilla at this time last year. And Dave Hansen became the Dodgers third batting coach.

This year, the most intriguing name is third baseman Eric Chavez. Once a perennial Gold Glove winner with the A's, Chavez averaged 29.5 homers and 98 RBIs from 2000 to 2005.

Wrist, shoulder and back injuries began taking a toll in 2006. His production was so bad, he volunteered to hit ninth in the lineup but didn't go on the disabled list because his defense was so valuable to the A's.

It got worse from 2007 to 2010. Chavez's plate appearances tell the story: 379 to 95 to 31 to 123. He has endured multiple surgeries to both shoulders and his back while contemplating retirement a few times.

It's highly doubtful he'll ever be an impact player again. But he's still only 33 years old, and he spent last spring training learning to play first base and the outfield to increase his versatility. After signing a six-year, $66 million in 2004, Chavez doesn't need the money.

Any contract signed with the Dodgers will surely be low guaranteed money with incentives. Chavez must first prove he's healthy. He'll work out with the Dodgers on Jan. 20 and had two other mystery American League teams interested as well.

Los Angeles would be a good fit for Chavez. He grew up and still lives in San Diego, so it's close to home. And the Dodgers train in Arizona.

Chavez would be a good fit for the Dodgers, too. Casey Blake, who will be 37 this year, definitely showed his age in 2010. A left-right platoon of Chavez-Blake could work to keep them both fresh.

Hansen Returns as Instructor
Dave Hansen, the all-time Dodgers record holder in career and single-season pinch-hits, has been added to the coaching staff. When Joe Torre retired and was replaced by hitting coach Don Mattingly, Jeff Pentland was promoted from instructor to Mattingly's hitting-coach role and Hansen was hired to take Pentland's job as instructor.

Hansen, 42, spent two stints with the Dodgers (1990-96 and 1999-2002) and also played with the Cubs, Padres, Mariners and one season in Japan. He had only one season with more than 181 at-bats, but he tied the Major League record with seven pinch-hit homers in 2002.

Hansen is currently one of the instructors working with 16 selected top prospects in the Dodgers' annual winter-development minicamp at Dodger Stadium. As Hansen said, he's back where he belongs. The Dodgers drafted him in the second round in 1999.

Top 10 pinch-hitters and top five in pinch-hit runs batted in:

 Career Pinch-Hits:
   [24+ hits]           ab- hits  ave
 1. Dave Hansen      	421-110  .261
 2. Manny Mota       	328-106  .323
 3. Chris Gwynn       	217- 52  .240
 4. Olmedo Saenz        197- 49  .254
 5. Mitch Webster	175- 44  .251
 6. Duke Snider        	147- 43  .293
 7. Mike Sharperson	163- 39  .239
 8. Mickey Hatcher	156- 37  .237
 9. Rick Monday         176- 34  .193
10. Lee Lacy         	117- 33  .282
    George Shuba        125- 33  .264

  Top 20 Single Season Pinch-Hits
             (13+ hits)         ab- h   ave
  1. Dave Hansen, 1993	        55-18  .327
  2. Mitch Webster, 1992	47-17  .362
  3. Sid Gatreaux, 1936 	55-16  .291
  4. Manny Mota, 1974 	        53-15  .283
     Manny Mota, 1979 	        42-15  .357
     Ed Goodson, 1976 	        56-15  .268
     Dave Hansen, 2000	        55-15  .273
     Olmedo Saenz, 2004	        49-15  .306
     Olmedo Saenz, 2006	        57-15  .263

 Single-season rbi
18—Dave Hansen, 1993
16—Manny Mota, 1974
15—Olmedo Saenz, 2006   
14—Dave Hansen, 2000     
14—Robin Ventura, 2004 

 Career rbi
77—Manny Mota
66—Dave Hansen
45—Olmedo Saenz
38—Chris Gwynn
36—Duke Snider
Four of the top six Major League all-time pinch-hitters are former Dodgers players and current Dodgers employees. Lenny Harris, No. 1 on the list, is a Double-A hitting coach; Mark Sweeney, No. 2, is a special assistant for baseball operations; Manny Mota, No. 3, is a coaching fixture on the Major League staff. Dave Hansen is No. 6.

--RHP Tim Redding was signed to a minor league contract with a spring training invite. Redding is a low-risk signing, but with medium-reward at best. He's probably Class AAA insurance. He last pitched in the majors in 2009.

--RHP Chad Billingsley, 1B James Loney and LHP Hong-Chih Kuo are the Dodgers' three arbitration-eligible players. None is expected to sign a multi-year contract. But if the Dodgers did pick one, it would be Billingsley.

--Manager Don Mattingly received 13.6 percent of the vote for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, down from 16.1 percent a year earlier. A player needs 75 percent to get elected.

--RHP Ronald Belisario, who was placed on the restricted list twice by the Dodgers last year, pitched extremely well in his native Venezuelan Winter League. At the end of the winter regular season, Belisario led the league with 14 saves and had posted a 1.00 ERA with 15 strikeouts and four walks in 18 innings.

--INF Dee Gordon, who is probably still a year away from the majors, did well in winter ball in Puerto Rico. In 33 games, Gordon batted .361 with 26 runs, six triples and eight stolen bases (in 15 attempts). Staying focused to make the routine play defensively is still an issue. After making 37 errors in 137 games in the minors last year, Gordon made 13 more in Puerto Rico.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3/31 -- New date for the Dodgers' Opening Day. It was moved up one day to Thursday to accommodate a national television audience on ESPN. The Giants originally wanted the game to be in San Francisco to raise their World Series banner, before returning to L.A. to continue the series. The Dodgers balked at flying north for just one game but agreed to moving the game up one day.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If you can't tell a player that he should be running out groundballs and how to play the game the right way, then why are you coaching? You can get someone off the street to be their friend. Sometimes you pay a price for being honest. He's a five-tool player, but he'd bring you five tools on Monday and sometimes one tool on Tuesday. This kid can do anything he wants in this game. He's got tremendous ability. He's not a bad kid. It just looked like he had other things on his mind. I was trying to get him to see what he was doing or not doing. Some people call it 'old school.' I just call it playing baseball the right way." -- Former Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa, in the Boston Globe, about outfielder Matt Kemp. Bowa believes his comments about Kemp are the reason he doesn't have a job with any team in the majors for 2011.