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Enrique 'Kiké' Hernandez adds weirdness and energy to the mix

Enrique Hernandez has injected some energy and levity into the Dodgers clubhouse. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

PHOENIX -- Enrique "Kiké" Hernandez has been walking around the Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse before games lately dressed in lime-green fatigue tights and banana-print pajamas.

On the flight from Chicago to Miami last week, he staged a video with Joc Pederson and Justin Turner in which they lip-synced as Minion characters and he danced around behind them in a banana suit. He posted it to his social media accounts.

He has been carrying the banana suit around with him everywhere, ever since the Dodgers won a game after Hernandez waved around a “rally banana” in the dugout.

When Hernandez came to the plate in the ninth inning needing a home run to complete the cycle during the Dodgers’ 4-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday night, he admits he swung so hard, he left a bruise on his left hip.

“That’s what I get for trying too hard,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez’s goofy antics, his wild eyes and wild hair and his 1,000-mph personality might not go over so well on a team that was losing on a regular basis. Lucky for the Dodgers, he is sensitive enough to his surroundings to realize exactly that.

“We’re in first place, so I can be myself, have as much energy as I have every day and have as much fun as I do,” Hernandez said. “It’s great.”

It also doesn’t hurt when you’re batting a solid .269 -- with some pop -- and have filled in at five positions with good defense. Hernandez, filling in for Pederson in center field Wednesday, sparked both rallies that won them a game at Chase Field. He led off the game with a triple to right field and had an RBI double in the third. It was the one-year anniversary of his major-league debut for the Houston Astros.

Hernandez was a throw-in when the Dodgers traded Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas to the Miami Marlins for the pitching prospect they would trade for Howie Kendrick and two other players. So far, he has been the only one of the ex-Marlins who has been steadily productive. Reliever Chris Hatcher struggled before going on the disabled list and catcher Austin Barnes has done his damage in Triple-A.

Gordon is batting .351 and leads the majors with 113 hits, while playing superior defense at second base. Haren looks like exactly what the Dodgers need: a reliable back-end starter. He is 6-5 with a 3.38 ERA. If the Matt Kemp-Yasmani Grandal trade with the San Diego Padres has seemed like an overwhelmingly positive one for the Dodgers, the Miami trade has been iffy. Kendrick has been one of the Dodgers’ best hitters all year, but the other pieces have been complementary.

There’s probably nothing wrong with a little clubhouse levity either. The Dodgers would probably be missing some of that after they traded Juan Uribe to Atlanta if not for Hernandez’s arrival. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called it “silly,” but said he doesn’t mind it because Hernandez gets himself prepared to play. He thinks the energy is infectious.

“That guy has energy for days. I think he stole what I lack,” Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson said. “He’s got antics and bananas and the whole deal, but it’s fun. He’s the complete antithesis of what I am, but opposites attract so I love it.”

Where Hernandez is frenetic, Anderson is sluggish, moving slowly around the mound and appearing to drag a small piano behind him when he runs the bases. He is, however, effective. He not only held Arizona to a run on seven hits over seven innings Wednesday, but he did it in under three hours, which came in handy after the first two games of this series moved at the pace of a nineteenth century Russian novel.

Anderson (5-4 with a 3.00 ERA) has been to the Dodgers what Hyun-Jin Ryu was in each of the previous two seasons, a perfectly reliable third wheel to Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

“It’s not egotistical, but I think I’m a pretty good pitcher and I want to prove it to baseball and the Dodgers and my teammates,” Anderson said.