The Dodgers went into camp with only a couple of questions about who is going to play where. One of them is who's going to play third. The candidates are Nomar Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche. Nomar is the often injured fading star coming off a terrible season (only 7 HR and an SLG of.371). LaRoche is the often injured number one prospect in the organization, who put up terrific numbers in the minors, but who also didn't especially impress in his brief trial with the big club last season. Most of Dodger fandom, at least in the places I hang out, want LaRoche to get the job because of his youthful potential. Meanwhile, the people whose opinions count the most, Joe Torre and Ned Colletti, seem to have decided in favor of Nomar because of his proven veteran leadership (PVL). On the field, both players were having good springs.
Then for about five minutes on Friday it appeared as if fate had decided to intervene. Nomar was hit on the wrist by a pitch and left the game in obvious pain. LaRoche fans rejoiced as Andy pinch ran for Nomar, figuring that here was his shot to take the job. It was not to be. In the very next inning, the Dodger catcher (Danny Ardoin, who has no shot to make the team) threw wildly to third in an attempt to pick a runner off the base. The ball ricocheted off the runner's helmet and struck LaRoche on the base of his right thumb, tearing the ulnar collateral ligament. Bozhe moi!
LaRoche will have surgery, and will be out for at least two months, probably more. Nomar, fortunately, was only bruised and will be out for only a few days. Supposedly. You never know with Nomar. The Dodgers will now look at Tony Abreu (also oft injured), Ramon Martinez (Noooo!!!), and Delwyn Young.
The switch-hitting Young is an interesting possibility. He's a heck of a hitter. He started out as a second baseman, but wasn't much of a fielder, so the organization moved him to the outfield. He came up last September and hit .380. He already figured to stay with the team as the fifth outfielder. This spring they put him back at second, and suddenly he started making all the plays. I don't expect him to emerge as a third baseman just as suddenly, but if he can spell Nomar occasionally until LaRoche gets back, that'd be great. Certainly it's better than the reports that Colletti has been shopping around for Brandon Inge.
The Dodgers play the Sox today at Vero, the last Sunday game ever at the old camp.