By Tamara Latta
Sentinel Contributing Writer
It hasn’t been an easy ride for Xavier Paul in finding a place with the Dodgers. But that’s expected when you’re playing behind an All-Star in Manny Ramirez.
Paul got emotional when his name was called to return back to the minors, after filling-in for Ramirez last month. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier immediately came over to console him, and whispered a few words of inspiration in his ear.
Consider the message delivered as the 25-year-old is back again with the team, having been called up on May 18 with Ethier on the disabled list.
In his first six games back, he’s batting .412 with four runs batted in and three multi-it games. It’s just picking up where he left off earlier this season. when he racked up eight hits in 29 at bats.
After a huge disappointment not making the Dodgers roster, Paul continues to show his hunger for the Majors. He’s most definitely a young prospect that we’ll see in the near future representing the boys in blue.
“The Punisher” is what I call him in the minor leagues and his performance is why Dodgers Manager Joe Torre is giving him a taste of the big leagues every time one of his outfielders goes down with an injury.
“He’s a big league player; I don’t think there’s any question about that” said Torre. “He’s been dominating in the minors.”
Paul has been ripping up the Pacific Coast League, hitting .361/.409/.574 with 18 runs scored in 15 games.
His only curse is coming up on a roster with three already talented outfielders and a proven outfielder on the bench in Garret Anderson. So now is his time to prove he belongs in the future.
Manny Ramirez’s position may be up for grabs next season, if he doesn’t re-sign with the Dodgers. I think Paul will be the perfect candidate for the job. After working with Dodgers hitting Coach Don Mattingly -he’s looking more comfortable with his at bats this season. Â He’s showing his skills and improvement every time he returns to the Majors.
In his return last week, Paul felt a lot of energy from the fans when the bases were loaded with no outs. He singled to left field and drove in a run and the crowd showed the kid some love. He’s already getting appreciation woes from the fans so come next year; they’ll already know what he can bring to this club.
“It feels great to get energy from the fans” said Paul. Â “It’s hard to hold my composure out there because it’s such a great feeling”.
If you’ve been keeping up with the team, you know that he’s a special kid who’s just waiting his turn. He has strong hands and can be a threat in the years to come. Not to mention he can steal bases and make noise on the defensive end.
It’s always a good opportunity to get a feel for the big leagues, but sometimes that can lead up to frustration- getting called up and having to go back down to the minors can be bitter sweet.
After getting his emotions mixed up, he’s not going to let that spirit interfere with his game. Staying focused is his number one priority right now.
“Everybody goes through the ups and down said Paul”. Â I’m fortunate to get the opportunity with a great ballclub-so I just have to keep playing hard and not let the down part affect my game”.
Dodger fans, get to know Xavier Paul because from the look of things, he will be a regular boy in blue sooner than later.