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Mattingly to 'mix and match' at hot corner

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NEW YORK -- Juan Uribe started at third base for the Dodgers Thursday, back in the rotation after three games of Jerry Hairston. And Nick Punto has started there twice, all because Luis Cruz is hitting .087.

"It's hard to say it belongs to anybody," manager Don Mattingly said of third base. "I'll keep trying to match up numbers the best I can. The bright side is they all catch the ball. For me, it's mix and match."

After a breakthrough second half last year, following a career in the Minor Leagues, the position was Cruz's to lose, and he's pretty much lost it.

"He definitely got the first shot," Mattingly said of Cruz. "We're 20 games in, and I'm not going to totally forget about him. He's capable of swinging the bat well, but it's been a battle. If he was hitting bullets but not getting hits, you'd say it's coming. But we're not seeing a lot of balls squared up."

Mattingly said Cruz is "working on stuff" in the batting cage to get his swing better "so I can get him back in there."

"He's got to get confidence and we'll move forward from there," he said.

The Dodgers are 6-3 with Cruz starting at third base, 1-5 with Uribe, 0-2 with Punto and 2-1 with Hairston.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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