Rivera's production has Dodgers thinking big

Rivera's production has Dodgers thinking big

ATLANTA -- The production the Dodgers have received from Juan Rivera, and the resulting turnaround in victories, has management further believing that the addition of one big hitter could turn the team around next year.

"Right now, we see what Juan Rivera, one guy, has done for us," manager Don Mattingly said of Rivera, who has 27 RBIs in 40 games since being picked up for virtually nothing from Toronto.

"With Juan, and James [Loney] swinging the bat, it's been a total transformation of the team. That tells you what one bat can do. A solid bat is something we've got to have or we'll be right back where we were. You get that and it's like dominoes. Depending on what you get, the dominoes fall."

Rivera arrived at the All-Star break and replaced Marcus Thames with the team's record at 41-51 (which included four straight wins going into the break). Since then, the Dodgers are 26-19. They are 12-3 and have averaged 6.3 runs per game over the past 15 games. Since Aug. 18, they lead the Major Leagues with 95 runs scored and a .355 on-base percentage.

Rivera said he wants to return next year, which would be more likely if the Dodgers land a power-hitting first baseman. If they instead keep Loney at first base, they probably would try to find a better bat than Rivera's for left field.

Rivera, who hit .243 with Toronto, is hitting .292 with the Dodgers, but has only three homers.