Theodoreau Enjoyed Olympic Baseball Experience

VERO BEACH, Florida- In the Olympics the host country automatically qualifies an entry in every team sport. Which meant in 2004 when the games were held in Athens, Greece got to field a baseball team. Since the diamond sport ranks down around, say, curling, in participation around the Aegean Sea, an alternate plan was called for.

That's the one that allows countries to send for players who are immediate descendents of their land. So, the Greeks called upon American players of that descent, among them, the Dodgers' Nick Theodoreau.

Nick's very much of Greek heritage. His mother was born there, so was his grandfather on his father's side. Thus it was, with the Dodgers' permission, that he was able to become an Olympian. And that's an experience he will always treasure.

"You had to be impressed with the world's greatest athletes that you were around. Their dedication is unbelievable. At first, before the competition everybody was in bed by 9 p.m. but after they competed they mingled and it was great. Everybody's out for a gold medal, of course, but the camaraderie was always there. They cheered for every medalist, regardless of the country."

By Olympic tradition, the host country enters last in the opening parade of national teams, another memorable moment in Nick's participation . And, of course, he took in the marvelous examples of antiquity that Greece is renown for. But best of all was a visit to a small village.

"We went to the place where my mother was born, about two hours south of Athens. It's a tiny village and I mean tiny. Everybody came out. I got to meet cousins and other relatives. And they all came to watch me play."

For some unexplained reason, Nick had dropped 12 pounds just before the games so as the starting shortstop he didn't hit as well as he'd hoped although he did draw eight walks. No, of course, Greece didn't win a medal in the sport. In fact, it won only one of seven games. Cuba took the gold but Nick had his memories -- and then some.

If he didn't hit the way he wanted to, it was just about the only time this past season for he had an excellent summer back home. He made AAA on a permanent basis, was in the Las Vegas lineup most of the time and played so well that he achieved another honor- that of being selected to the AAA All-Star Game. And, that, too, he says, "was awesome. They were first class every way," he says of the game held in Pawtucket, R. I.

In this game, Nick was in center field for the Pacific Coast League stars. That's an example of the way he's been moved around the diamond, something that he's always done. Not that it was what he desired.

"I've always wanted to have a regular position, to play every day and see what I can do. But from day one, that never happened."

No, every since he was drafted in the 27th round from UCLA in 1998, Theodoreau has been dubbed a utility man. So, you could find him at short (as he was in the Olympics ),or center (as he was in the All-Star game ) or left or right or second or third. Good guy to have on a team but hard to advance your cause that way.

In 2004, though, because if injuries, Nick was put in the Vegas outfield and started hitting. He kept right on so he stayed out there on a daily basis until he had to leave to join Team Greece. For the season, he had fine numbers, hitting .282

"I'd say it was my best season on the upper levels although I hit .310 at San Bernardino before," he observes.

He was a minor league free agent after this past season. Did he consider bidding goodbye to the Dodgers for another organization. "I was tempted," he admits. "I thought about it but I'm comfortable here so unless I had a chance to really better myself, I didn't want to go." So, he accepted the Dodger offer and is once again here.

Here bidding for the prize that has so far eluded him- to move up to the bigtime. And, there, he agrees his versatility stands him in good stead. "In the long run it will probably help me," he declares. "So, I'll go to Vegas, work hard and hopefully catch somebody's eye."

So it was in a simulated Dodger game featuring a mix of major and minor leaguers, Theodoreau was stationed at second base. This guy gets around.