Borders Begins Career No. 13

VERO BEACH, Fla- When asked how many organizations he's been with in his career, Pat Borders begins to tick them off on his fingers. "12," he finally answers. You may think that's the number he came up with because he ran out of fingers, but, no, that's right on. Oh, he has been with a couple of those more than once.

When Borders began his professional career in 1982, some of the pitchers he'll probably be catching this spring like Jonathan Broxton and Greg Miller hadn't even been born. Of the time he's spent in the game, 17 of those years have been in the big leagues so his pension must rival Tommy Lasorda's. So, why doesn't he kick back and pull out the travel brochures? "It's a great job," he answers.""I love it."

Of those 17 seasons, the last five have required Border's accepting a minor league job until called up. But last August, while he was hitting only .197 for the Mariners, they let him go and he sat out the rest of the year. But, here he, back again employed by the Dodgers on a minor league contract but in camp with the big club as a non-roster type.

He chose L.A., he says because" I wanted to go with a prestige organization and the Dodgers are one with tradition like the Yankees and Red Sox. " Well, the other two are among those few that he hasn't worked for and his future role with L.A. may never bring him to the city because the thinking now is he's at the stage where he might just have to go to Las Vegas to back up Russell Martin.

He's okay with that. "I'd like to be a manager or coach down the road so if they want me to work with the young guys I'm more than happy to. Maybe they can learn something from me and I might learn something from them."

His locker in the clubhouse is right next to Martin's which is undoubtedly no coincidence. They seem to have acquired something of a bond already which Borders explains with a laugh. "He used to be a third baseman and so did I so we have that in common."

That's right, Pat started his career at third, then added first base and the outfield to his resume, not going back of the plate full-time until 1989. That was with the Blue Jays in his first full year in the American League. He became their regular receiver and played in two World Series with them (1992-93).

So, there isn't much that Borders hasn't done in the game but he's never lost that enthusiasm while acquiring considerable knowledge so the Dodgers are quite happy to have him with them.

He'll be 43 on May 14 and has played parts of three decades in The Show. The fact that's he was of the more affable guys in the game may have helped keep him out of the unemployment lines during that stretch but not really. Friendliness helps but it's his catching skills that clubs sign him to contracts for.

At one time he was a teammate of John Mayberry. Now, he may be playing against Mayberry's son before he's done. The Dodgers, as noted, are now organization No. 13. Quality begets quantity. It certainly has in the case of Borders.

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