Langill Fills A Role

Among the more unnoticed aspects of the trade that sent Dioner Navarro to Tampa Bay was the fact that Eric Langill was on the move again. Langill had been playing at Jacksonville but when Navarro went, Langill packed his bags and traveled to Las Vegas to back up Edwin Bellorin, who was installed as the 51's starting catcher.

Sliding from team to team is nothing unusual for Langill. In fact, it's a rare season when he's with one team the whole year. If ballplayers carried business cards, Langill's would read, "Have glove. Will travel."

The French-Canadian is the quintessential backup catcher. He's in his fifth season with the Dodgers and he's never been a starter in any of those, even remotely.

He's a very competent receiver whose offensive capabilities are rather limited as a lifetime minor league average of .216 illustrates. Oh, he did have one game this year for Jacksonville where he delivered three doubles but that was an aberration.

Maybe he would have been long gone under some circumstances except for a hot spring afternoon a couple of years ago when he was catching pitchers who needed bullpen work. They came and went- pitcher after pitcher but he toiled on, seating in all that gear on a long, scorching afternoon, not complaining after hours of it.

It was noted that there could be a place for such a willing worker so he's been around, switching from team to team wherever catching help is required.

There was even a rumor going around that he's been promised the bullpen catching position with the Dodgers if it opens up. (Rob Flippo currently holds forth there). Langill himself denies this, saying no such promise was ever made to him.

He got his biggest thrill this year when he was brought into the big league camp as a non-roster addition. He wasn't one of the early ones selected - those with a chance to make the team.

And while others had their names neatly stencilled over the locker they occupied, his was handwritten on in magic marker. But he was there, in the big league atmosphere, and he even got into a couple of exhibition games.

After that, though, it was back to the minors. At first, that was Vegas but he was placed on the disabled list because Russell Martin and Bellorin were there. Only when Martin was called up was he activated but when Pat Borders was brought to Vegas he was on the road again.

His Dodger experience isn't his first in organized ball as he was drafted by Montreal in the 34th round back in 2000. But after two undistinguished years, they released him but he bounced back to sign with the Dodgers in March 2002 and has been around ever since. If anybody noticed.

He's 27 now and it's unlikely that he has any illusions about making it up as a player. But he won't complain for that's not his nature. "I know my role," he maintains and he's content with that.

And the Dodgers appreciate him for not every player around is going to be a star or even a regular. Most of those cast down into supporting roles don't appreciate it and frequently can become surly.

So, maybe, the guy they all call "Frenchy" won't ever get a headline. And maybe he has to look around at his surroundings to remind himself of what team

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