Oscar Robles Excited About Dodger Tryout

<b>VERO BEACH, Florida</b>-- When longtime Dodger scout Mike Brito approached Oscar Robles this past winter about arranging for him to join the Dodgers for spring training, Oscar had to feel that the wheel had turned full circle. It was Brito, after all, who had discovered Fernando Valenzuela, the player Robles idolized and the one that turned him into an ardent Dodger fan.

"No question, the Dodgers have been my team and, yeah, it's because of Fernando" So, did he ever meet his baseball god along the way? "Oh, sure. I even faced him this winter," for Fernando, still having the itch to pitch, had been active in winter ball south of the border. So, how did you do?

"I took him for a double. " Now, there's wish fulfillment at its apex.

But then hitting is something that Robles has demonstrated that he does very well. Although he may be the most obscure of the non-roster players in camp, he brings in the best batting mark for 2004, having hit .381 for Oaxaca, which was the third-best average in the Mexican League.

That prompted Brito's move to get him here but it's only on a trial basis. His contract remains the property of the Mexico City Red Devils. If he shows L. A. enough, they'll buy it; otherwise, he has to be returned to Mexico.

That's where he's been playing for the past five years although he did have a similar tryout with Oakland in 2002 but they declined to keep him.

A native of Mexico, Robles lives just across the border in Tijuana but attended high school in San Diego. That made him draft eligible and his play was impressive enough that the Astros took him in the third round of the 1994 draft. He advanced to Triple-A in their chain, only to be released before the 1999 season. It was then he went back to his home country to play.

He's averaged over .300 for his career but he admits batting stats in that league tend to be inflated in that mountainous country where parks are often up in the rarified air. "Some parks are good places to hit, " he allows.

Some of the other legends that have grown over the years concerning play down there don't hold up, he maintains. One says that the league is full of long, hot bus trips in which beer guzzling by tired veterans is the main preoccupation. "Not any more, " he asserts. "Most teams travel by plane today. "

The other says that it's a league of junkball pitchers. "Yeah, they throw a lot of off-speed stuff but there are some good fast ball pitchers, too."

He feels confident in his hitting, something he hopes to be able to show the Dodgers. "I also want to show I can play in the field, too, 'He adds. "I can play short, third, second, anywhere there. "

The competition for those spots is spirited ; so much so, that even a decent display by Robles might not be enough, particularly since he'll be 29 next month. Still, he's been brought here by the man who found Fernando and if fortune has a heart, it will recognize a fitting symmetry here and he'll get a real chance.

If he does, Oscar's convinced he has the ability to write a happy ending.