Truby Trying to Hang In There

VERO BEACH, Fla.- Chris Truby signed as a free agent with the Dodgers, more than anything, because of the opportunity. That door he thought was open might well be swinging shut, though.

Chris has primarily been a third baseman and you can't blame him if he felt that the position had a, "Wecome, all comers" sign on when he agreed to terms last Dec. 9. After all, the Dodgers had used no fewer than seven players there in 2005 with the one that did the most service (Oscar Robles) having performed in but 30 games. The man that been signed to fill the slot, Jose Valentin, got into only 29 and had already departed.

So, what happened ? Less than a week after Truby joined the club, L.A. nailed down Bill Mueller and Chris had to know that flipped the sign over to "No vacancy. " Well, there was still that infield utility job that beckoned but in January, Ramon Martinez agreed to terms and moved into the front of the line for that. That left no room on top for Truby who was assigned to the minor league camp Tuesday.

What's more, things even look murky at Las Vegas, especially if Andy LaRoche moves up to occupy third base there as is likely. If he's stationed there and Willie Aybar doesn't make the big club, they'll probably play him at second. That leaves short and that's a position Chris hasn't gone near since 1999.

Well, there's always first base, a location Truby has tried off-and-on a bit over the years. Which is where Grady Little was looking at him for the most part in the few exhibition games in which he's drew some time. Not that he's going to be fulltime there, either in Los Angeles with Nomar Garciaparra or at Vegas with James Loney.

It's not that Truby doesn't possess some credentials. After all, this will be his 14th season as a professional. Admittedly, most of that time has been spent in the minors but he's logged some big league time as well in parts of four seasons with the Astros, Expos, Tigers and Devil Rays. His longest stretch there ooccurredin 2002 but after managing just a .199 mark with Detroit, he's had to battle ever since.

What Truby does best is hit with some pop. He knocked as many as 28 out of the yard in 1999 with Jackson and last year hit 20 for Omaha while batting .243. While his major league lifetime batting mark is .231, he has managed a respectable .273 in the minors.

Chris says he can and will play some second to help a club so he's versatile enough to help somebody. But he turned 32 in December and while that isn't old if you're Garciaparra, it's starting to look a big aged if you're just trying to catch on with somebody.

So, maybe his best bet as far as the Dodgers are concerned is to go to Vegas, play a little here, a little there, do quite a big of D.H'ing and if he does enough hitting, get a shot at L.A. if somebody gets hurt. Otherwise, he'll have his agent check the classified section for somebody else's "Help wanted" ad.

He's a guy who has faith, though. He wasn't even drafted out of high school but still managed to latch on with the Astros as a free agent. That was back in 1993 and he's still here.

He can teach those TV people a thing or two about playing the Survivor game. That's what he's trying to do in this camp.