LOS ANGELES -- Rookie Chin-lung Hu made his fifth start of the season
Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, written into the
No. 8 spot in Joe Torre's batting order. Hu took one
of his many infield gloves with him to second base and
allowed Jeff Kent to sit on Sunday.
Along with his glove, Hu appears to have taken some of
veteran infielder Nomar Garciaparra's wisdom with
Hu has his locker next to Garciaparra, a natural fit
for a rookie infielder to be paired with a veteran. Hu
said that Garciaparra was among his favorite players
growing up in Taiwan and he hasn't been afraid to ask
Garciaparra questions about the trade. This
willingness to learn is one that Garciaparra has
noticed and respects, and in return, he has tried to
accommodate every question and make Hu better.
"He was one of my favorite players growing up," Hu, 24
said, of Garciaparra, 34. "The Major Leagues are so
different from the Minors. Sometimes you try to do too
much. I think Nomar has reminded me to enjoy the game
and stay ready for anything."
For his part, Garciaparra is frustrated to be on the
disabled list [right calf] for the second time this
season, but he has retained a willingness to help Hu
acclimate himself to the Major Leagues.
Garciaparra said he easily remembers his tepid first
days as a rookie and the small details of everyday
life in a Major League clubhouse that can easily
escape a newcomer. Those adjustments extend to the
field. Garciaparra came to the Major Leagues late in
the 1996 season and was the American League Rookie of
The Year in 1997. He said former Red Sox infielders
John Valentin, Tim Naehring, Mo Vaughn and Jeff Frye
helped him. Now he recognizes that it's his turn to
play the role of the wise veteran.
"He's great because he doesn't walk around like he
knows everything," Garciaparra said. "He doesn't
assume he knows it all. He takes it all in. We'll sit
and talk. He asks questions of a guy who has been
there a while and that's what you want to see. He's
great. He wants to get better and that's what you like
For the immediate future, Hu likely serves as a
versatile infielder. He came up as a shortstop and
considers it his natural position, but can spell Kent
at second. Manager Joe Torre said before the game
Sunday that Hu would most likely be the next option to
play third base after fellow rookie Blake DeWitt. For
the time being, Hu's versatility is an asset that has
helped keep the left side of the Dodger infield
flowing. And in his first season, he can mine
Garciaparra's mind as much as he likes.
"If I see an individual play, I might say, hey you
might want to move there, for this hitter or this
count. As you get older, the game changes,"
Garciaparra said. "It's a different understanding and
a different awareness of what is going on. There are
things that go on up here that you didn't even know
existed in the Minors."
Said Hu: "He's been very beneficial for me to have him
next to me."
John Klima is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.