Notes: Betemit not expected to platoon

Notes: Betemit not expected to platoon

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Because Wilson Betemit hit only .189 right-handed compared to .281 left-handed last year and because top prospect Andy La Roche is a right-handed hitter, the assumption of a Dodgers platoon at third base picked up steam during the winter.

But manager Grady Little gave Betemit a vote of confidence Saturday.

"He's in good shape, he's working hard and he's got the look on his face that it's his job and somebody has to take it away," said Little. "I can't tell the difference in the way he's swinging [right-handed or left-handed]. Last year, he got into a hole right-handed and started trying harder and dug himself deeper."

Despite several reported dates of birth, Betemit is listed officially at only 25 years old. Little said he should get better with experience and he does not consider him a platoon player.

"Not in my figuring right now," he said. "You look at his history and there's no doubt he can hit right-handed. He's got a lot of power. He hits balls like David Ortiz and they travel in any direction. The guy's young. It just seems like he's been around forever."

Fishing for Marlon: Marlon Anderson never played the infield after he came to the Dodgers last year, but he's been taking ground balls at third, second and first base with the first string this spring.

The way the Dodgers' bench currently shapes up, Anderson could be the lone left-handed pinch-hitter available on most days. Likely reserves Mike Lieberthal, Ramon Martinez, Olmedo Saenz and Jason Repko are right-handed hitters. Although Anderson can play first and third bases, Martinez is the only one with considerable shortstop experience.

The seeming shortage of left-handed hitters is one reason James Loney could make the club. The only other left-handed hitters in camp (not part of the starting lineup) are switch-hitter Delwyn Young and non-roster players Larry Bigbie and Sandy Martinez. The starting lineup features an entire outfield of left-handed hitters (Andre Ethier, Juan Pierre and Luis Gonzalez) plus switch-hitters Betemit and Rafael Furcal.

Nomar's infielder gloves: The sight of a middle infielder's glove in the hands of Nomar Garciaparra prompted the natural suspicion that he might be moving across the diamond, but the first baseman said he uses the smaller glove to practice taking ground balls at first base, which is probably why he fields grounders there with the fluidity of a shortstop.

Garciaparra uses a particularly small Mexican-made glove for practice. He's also had Mizuno modify an existing style of first baseman's mitt, which he's currently breaking in.

"I'm picky about my gloves," he said.

Have passport, will pitch: Right-hander Dario Veras began his career as a Dodgers shortstop signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1990, but the record of his professional career (which includes Major League stints with San Diego and Boston) as recorded in the club media guide cuts off abruptly after the 2001 season.

He then went globetrotting. In 2002, he played in Korea. He sat out 2003, then pitched the next three seasons in Taiwan, before compiling 16 saves and a 1.54 ERA in the Dominican Winter League. That was enough for the Dodgers to give him another chance at age 34 as a non-roster invitee.

If he makes it all the way back, it will be his first Major League action since 1998.

"I'll go anywhere for a job to play baseball," said the slender pitcher.

Grab a bat: Little said the Dodgers might play some home exhibition games early in spring with the designated hitter. He said the Florida Marlins have notified teams that they will use that option.

Exhibition opener: New left-hander Randy Wolf is scheduled to start the Dodgers' March 1 exhibition opener against the Atlanta Braves at Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Signed, sealed: The club announced the signing of nine young players that lacked the service time necessary for salary arbitration -- Repko, Jonathan Broxton, Tim Hamulack, Hong-Chih Kuo, Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, Zach Hammes, Eric Hull and Greg Miller.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.