SAN DIEGO -- When Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Brandon Gomes signed Hanser Alberto to a one-year deal this spring, their message to him was simple.
He was going to help the team against lefties with his .330 career batting average against southpaws. But Friedman and Gomes also told Alberto, who came in with glowing reviews from his former teammates, to be himself. So far, the Dominican infielder has brought a fun and outgoing personality to a Dodgers team that was in need of a spark.
“He’s fantastic,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He is a huge addition to this ballclub. His energy, his baseball acumen, his positivity and willingness to be ready when called upon. He’s just a heck of a ballplayer. So he’s been very additive.”
In a short time, Alberto has already become a team and fan favorite. He always has a huge smile on his face when his teammates do something on the field. SportsNet LA seemingly has a camera ready to capture Alberto’s energy.
Before a couple of games during the last homestand, Alberto was seen dancing in the dugout with future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw.
“I’ve always been like that,” Alberto said with a smile. “I think it’s important to keep things light because this is a game of a lot of frustration. My job is to keep the clubhouse and dugout loose and keep guys ready. They’ve allowed me to be myself and joke around with everyone and do the things I’ve always done. That’s what’s been so great.”
Alberto’s path to the big leagues wasn’t easy, but that never deterred the versatile infielder from having fun and keeping his teammates engaged. After getting rejected many times by different organizations, Alberto finally got a chance with the Rangers in 2009. He was 17 years old, often considered “old” in the Dominican, as most prospects sign by the time they turn 16.
“I was a short and skinny kid. There weren’t many opportunities,” Alberto said. “But I was more of a gamer than someone who performs well in showcases. I just remained persistent and worked hard and never lost focus. Now we’re here.”
Once signed, Alberto showed the bat to ball skills that can easily get lost in today’s game, which is dominated by power hitters. In ’19, Alberto hit .305 in 139 games with the Orioles. On Saturday, Padres starter Blake Snell went up to Alberto, just to let him know that he’s “a beast.”
“It’s been a really beautiful journey,” Alberto said. “Lots of highs and lows.”
Alberto’s talent has never been in question. He’ll be a big piece for the Dodgers, especially against left-handed pitching. Alberto will also serve as a defensive replacement at multiple positions in the infield.
“I love everything about Hanser,” Roberts said.
But as he waits for his next string of consistent at-bats, Alberto will continue being the “loud” guy in the Dodgers’ clubhouse. It’s what he’s done his whole life. It’s what everyone inside the Dodgers’ clubhouse has come to love.
“My teammates have made it easy. They like the things I do and I think that helps us a lot,” Alberto said. “I love being part of this team. This is high class, from the front office to all the guys on the team. I can see why they’ve had so much success in the past.”