Infield wars heating up

With only a dozen games to go in spring training, a couple of battles are winding down. Third base and shortstop are set with Adrian Beltré and Cesar Izturis as well as the utility spot with Jolbert Cabrera. But let's look at the others: <br<>br>

Second Base-
Alex Cora
- Could be handed the starting job despite not winning it this spring. br> Jose Hernandez - You can't ask for more than Jose has given. He has played short, second and third and has only one error in 15 games. He is hitting .333 with an even better on base percentage. br> Joe Thurston - He's turning the DP much better and he's getting on base a lot, having been hit by pitches six times. Although batting just .250 he's hit the ball solidly even when making out. He's hit hard line drives and some long flies caught at the fence. No one plays harder. br> Jose Flores - A late pickup, GM Paul DePodesta's first. He has played mostly short and second base. He's been in ten games overall, but with few at bats coming late in the game. He's batting .333, 4-for-12 and has made two errors. br> First Base- Robin Ventura - It appears that he is the leading candidate to start, but may be in a platoon role. He has not hit well, batting .250 with no extra base hits among his six. He's struck out seven times and his fielding at first is only adequate with very little range. Also plays third base. br> Luis Garcia - A right handed hitter with power who could platoon with Ventura. He's hitting .344 with two doubles and two home runs. His fielding is the same as Robin's. Plays LF also. br> Olmedo Saenz - Not a good spring. His batting average is the lowest on the team, .172, and his fielding isn't any better than Ventura or Garcia. He also hits right handed like Garcia and would be a platoon player at best. Can play third base. br> James Loney - He's done everything. He's been the best hitter among all those who have played first base. He's by far the best fielder of them all. But at just 19 years of age, the Dodgers have sent him down to the minors. br> Jeremy Giambi - Has been injured all spring with back spasms and hasn't been able to show what he can do. Up only six times without a hit and just 4 innings at first base.

It would seem the first thing for Jim Tracy to do, is to decide how many infielders he wants to carry among the 25 opening day spots, six or seven. Given Beltré, Izturis Ventura and Cabrera that would leave two or three spots to fill. Alex Cora would seem to be a lock (if physically ready).

For lefty-righty platoons at second and first, it would seem that Luis Garcia and Jose Hernandez may have the best chances. But with Paul Lo Duca able to play first base, it could knock out Garcia and maybe make a place for someone else, like Joe Thurston. br> Decisions, decisions, decisions!