Dodgers Release Nakamura, Sign Truby

Another 2005 Dodger acquisition that didn't develop as hoped was officially ended with the quiet release of Japanese third baseman Norihito Nakamura. Nakamura at one time had been one of the Japanese league's biggest stars but he simply didn't hit in the hoped-for manner after coming to the United States and wound up spending most of the season in Las Vegas where his production was down as well.

Playing 13 years at third base for the Kintetsu Buffaloes of Osaka, Nakamura had been at his best, one of the premier long ball hitters in that country, hitting as many as 46 in 2001 and 42 the following year.

After that, bothered by a knee injury, his production fell off. He worked hard at a comeback, was eventually posted and his rights were won by the Dodgers early this year.
He signed a minor league contract for far less than he was offered to stay in Japan, such was his determination to make the US big leagues.

He came over with an invitation to spring training as a non-roster player. He actually looked quite good in camp games, displaying the promised power but opened the season in Vegas.

There, he was pounding the ball and was quickly brought up. However, he never got going, batting only .128 with only two doubles in the power department.

The problem was an unusual batting style, which featured a wrap-around technique in which the bat was held almost behind his head as the ball was delivered.

Batting coach Tim Wallach worked diligently to get him to shorten his swing but he did so only at times, usually falling back into his old comfortable habits.

At Vegas, pitchers began throwing to the outside part of the plate which he had trouble covering consistently. His average plummeted, winding up at .249 although he did tie for the club home run lead with 22.

His fielding at third was quite good, though he also played short and first base, neither with great results. In the end, complaining of an injured finger, he left the team in the final two weeks of the season.

At that time, the 32-year-old expressed doubts to his teammates about a return to Japanese ball, saying he felt disgraced by not succeeding at the big league level here as others had done.

With Nakamura gone, the Dodgers added another veteran third baseman in Chris Truby, also 32, who played last year for the Royals AAA farm Omaha where he hit ,242-20-66.

Truby, who played for the Astros (2000-01), the Expos (2002) and the Devil Rays (2003) in the big leagues has been a pro since 1993 when he was signed by Houston as a free agent out of LaVerne College. His signing came with an invitation to spring training as a non-roster addition.