LOS ANGELES -- For the past two months, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has given much of the credit for the Dodgers' offensive turnaround to outfielder Juan Rivera.
So when he was asked whether he wants this year's key midseason acquisition back next year, Mattingly was diplomatic, while at the same time speaking nothing but praise for Rivera.
Though he never said explicitly his vote is to retain Rivera, he said "he should be a consideration," before pointing out Rivera's immense value to the 2011 Dodgers.
"It's no surprise this guys hitting, for me," Mattingly said. "We knew that. He knows what he's doing. He's not some guy up there just guessing. He's up there, he studies, he knows what's going on."
When the Dodgers acquired Rivera, many scoffed at the notion that he'd be able to contribute as much as he has. But he's been one of the most valuable Dodgers during the season's final two months -- not coincidentally also the Dodgers' two best months.
Entering Wednesday, Rivera was hitting .297 with 41 RBIs since the Dodgers acquired him from Toronto during the All-Star break. At the time, the Dodgers were 10 games below .500. They sat at 77-76 heading into Wednesday's contest against San Francisco.
To Mattingly, Rivera's value doesn't end at the plate. He noted Rivera's ability to play both corner outfield spots as well as first base. Though he has removed Rivera for defensive purposes late in games, he said he feels there would be no need if he didn't have Tony Gwynn -- who has dazzled in the outfield all season -- sitting on his bench.