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