Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Matt Lawton Gets Crack at Regular Time in Center

Matt Lawton, the former Indians left fielder who was booed in Cleveland for "dogging it" when playing routine grounders and flies, is being given a shot. . .a long shot. . .at a fulltime center field gig for the Mariners. Lawton, 34, batting .385 in little over a dozen AB, for now has replaced 24-year-old center field regular Jeremy Reed, batting .185. Reed is being given time off to gather himself and is likely to win the job back, but Lawton has a legitimate opportunity to keep it. Lawton's fielding woes in Cleveland, when he hit .277 with 20 homers in 591 AB in '04, have been attributed to physical limitations related to various aches and pains about which Lawton remained stoic at the time. Ironically, Lawton has been quietly shopped this year as the Mariners seek middle infield help, and may be being showcased. Lawton took extra fielding practice Monday to reacquaint himself with the lights and white ceiling in the Metrodome in Minneapolis, where Lawton used to roam as a Twin and where he was once hit in the face by a ball as he tried to field a fly during practice.