LOS ANGELES -- For the third time in four games. Dodgers manager Joe Torre penciled in Nomar Garciaparra as his starting shortstop Monday. Garciaparra had not played short in the Majors for 2 1/2 seasons before returning from the disabled list Friday, but now he's starting to find a groove back at the position he played solely for the first nine years of his career. However, Torre said he was not sure if Garciaparra would be able to start even two of every three days, cognizant the veteran needs rest to avoid the disabled list that has robbed him of 76 of Los Angeles' first 85 games this year.
"Two out of three or three out of five, whatever it is, it's still going to be a plus for us," Torre said. "We know he knows how to play short, it's just a matter of trying to keep aware of not overusing him. Right now he seems to be pretty comfortable, and at the plate it's been easy to watch for me." Garciaparra has gone 3-for-7 in his first two games with a pair of doubles and a pair of runs, the type of production the club has not been getting out of the shortstop position offensively from Luis Maza and Angel Berroa. Still, after general manager Ned Colletti acknowledged interest in dealing for a shortstop in light of Rafael Furcal's back surgery that will likely keep him out for at least two months, Torre seconded that by saying, "I think shortstop right now is probably at the top of the list." Torre added he does not feel the team needs to improve at many positions to be in a good position for a postseason run, but he also brought up the importance of a Los Angeles strength: pitching. The Dodgers entered Monday with the best team ERA in the National League (3.70), and Torre knows that 20-year-old phenom Clayton Kershaw -- who yielded three runs (two earned) on four hits in six innings Monday in his first start for Double-A Jacksonville since being sent down Wednesday -- waits in the wings. "I think between pitching and shortstop, in those two areas, I don't think you can ever have too much ability or protection," Torre said.
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.