De Jesus nearly cycles in Dogs' win
Dodgers prospect healthy, batting .500 in Arizona Fall League
Ivan De Jesus Jr. has a pretty simple goal in mind for his second Arizona Fall League stint.
"I need to be ready in Spring Training," he said, "and get that job at second base."
De Jesus' story is a good one for Dodgers fans to root for -- the infield prospect was cruising through the Los Angeles system until he broke his leg just four games into the 2009 campaign. Well over a year later, he remains focused on recovering and proving himself.
He did just that Tuesday, falling a triple shy of hitting for the cycle and driving in three runs while raising his average to .500 as his Phoenix Desert Dogs bested the Peoria Saguaros, 7-3.
"I've been feeling really great, I'm feeling good," De Jesus said. "I'm not playing every day, but I'm having fun every time I play. Hopefully I can keep going and be ready when I get the opportunity to play every day. I'll be ready, but I'm just having fun right now and that's it."
De Jesus' limited playing time -- he had six at-bats coming into Tuesday -- is mostly due to rotation of infielders that Phoenix manager Don Mattingly has to find playing time for. De Jesus, conveniently, will be trying to impress Mattingly in February when the new manager takes over the Dodgers.
"We have a lot of infielders on this team and they want to switch it up every other day, and I understand that," De Jesus said. "They want to see everyone and that's OK. I don't mind that. I'll play hard and show them I'm ready to play every day."
De Jesus was productive even when he didn't get a hit, scoring the Dogs' first run after being hit by a pitch in the first inning. He hit a three-run homer in the second, singled to load the bases in the fourth and doubled to deep center in the sixth.
He was sitting on a changeup in his second at-bat when he took Padres prospect Erik Davis deep.
"It was runners second and third, I wanted to get the RBI and take the lead," he said. "I was looking to that one pitch, he was throwing changes and I was sitting on that pitch. Thank God he threw it and I hit it."
De Jesus, a Futures Game All-Star and Arizona Fall League Rising Star in 2008, returned from his leg injury this past spring and authored a solid comeback year at Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting .296 with seven homers and 70 RBIs. He set career highs in games played (130), at-bats (533), hits (158), doubles (33) and RBIs while also swiping six bases, proving the leg is no longer an issue.
"I played with injuries most of the year. It was tough missing a whole year and coming back at Triple-A," he said. "But I'm stronger, in my mind. I can get in there, play every day, it doesn't matter if I'm hurt or sore, I just help my team and win. It was tough coming back from the injury trying to recover, to get better after all the things I lost in 2009."
De Jesus' double Tuesday could have been a triple, he admitted.
"Yeah, it was a line drive to the right-field gap. I just stopped at second base, but it's OK. I had a great day and we won," he said. "Next time I'll run all the way to third and go for the double in the last at-bat."
De Jesus also toiled in the AFL in 2008.
"I'm more comfortable now than when I played in '08," he said. "I was a young guy, at Double-A, I was only 21. Now I've played in Triple-A, I've got more experience and I know more about situations. It's helped me little bit more, now I understand the game a little more."
And, equally as important, he's physically healthy.
"I can move a little more and work on my speed and agility and the range and I lost a little of when I got the injury," he said. "Now when I get back home, I can concentrate on coming back ready next year and winning that job."
Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.