Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Nomar Garciaparra Poised to Cross the Diamond

Though Nomar Garciaparra is entrenched at first base after a successful transition there last year for the Dodgers, he continues to field liners and grounders at shortstop during infield practice at camp, leading to unconfirmed speculation over circumstances under which he might move back to the middle, or perhaps third base.

If the Dodgers were to enact a contingency plan, Garciaparra could move back to his prime position at shortstop should incumbent Rafael Furcal miss time due to continued discomfort to his throwing hand. Garciaparra's move would open first base, at least temporarily, for highly regarded youngster James Loney -- a first baseman who is training as an outfield backup in an effort to find playing time.

Another youngster, Wilson Betemint, is under scrutiny at third base, where Garciaparra could move if Betemint continues to fall short, or if prospect Andy La Roche is shown to be unready.

Another alternative would allow Furcal, who has experience playing second base, to move to the pivot should aging veteran Jeff Kent miss time, or finally acquiesce to move to first base, as has been suggested.

Like Furcal, Garciaparra has big-league experience at second base, but only briefly during his rookie year in Boston. The Dodgers prefer to keep him at first base to limit his exposure to injury, but Garciaparra has made it plain that shortstop continues to be his coveted position.

Third base would be 35 feet from short, but a lot closer than first base.