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Gimenez slugs eventual game-winner
03/17/2011 11:04 PM ET
Dodgers catcher Hector Gimenez may have started the season slowly with his third different club in four years, but he is quickly turning things around.

The 28-year-old backstop was signed to a Minor League contract by Los Angeles in November. He only had four singles in his first seven games in the Cactus League.

Since then, he has raised his batting average to .389, hitting safely in four of his last five games and showing the power stroke that led to a career-high 16 homers last season.

He slugged his first longball of the spring against the Cubs' Chris Carpenter on Sunday, and he came off the bench to hit a go-ahead homer in the Dodgers' 6-4 victory over the D-backs on Thursday. It was his third extra-base hit in his last four at-bats.

"I can't complain about the opportunity they are giving me," Gimenez told "They were really clear with me -- it's all in my hands."

Gimenez entered the game in the top of the eighth inning as a defensive replacement for James Loney at first base, batting in the No. 3 hole in place of Andre Ethier. Gimenez came to bat in the bottom of the frame with LA trailing, 4-2, and runners on first and second with no outs.

The left-hander swung at Rafael Rodriguez's first offering, taking the pitch the other way for a three-run homer.

"I think this is the chance I've been looking for," Gimenez told "When I got to the big leagues last time, I hurt my shoulder the next spring, and I've been working hard ever since to get back. My shoulder is 100 percent. I can play with no limitations. I thought I would get this chance sooner, but it is what it is. I never put my head down. I always believed I could get back to the Major Leagues.

"I don't worry about what they will do. I feel like I'm just another guy on the team, and whatever happens, happens. I can't control that. I just have to be prepared."

Gimenez batted .305 with 16 homers and 72 RBIs in 94 games for Triple-A Altoona in the Pirates organization in 2010.

He set career highs in almost every offensive category and was named a midseason and postseason Eastern League All-Star before being released at the end of the season.

Gimenez then hammered eight homers in 56 games for the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League.

LA is Gimenez's fourth club. He was originally signed by the Astros in 1999 and was picked up by the Rays in '07 after undergoing rotator cuff surgery. In 2008, Pittsburgh signed the catcher to a Minor League contract.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.