Bigbie Trying To Show He Belongs

  VERO BEACH, Fla.- The wearing of a ring indicating a World Series championship is one of the most coveted goals of any baseball player. Larry Bigbie is entitled to wear such a ring but when he dons it, he can be pardoned if he does so rather sheepishly.

     Bigbie was a member of the world champion St. Louis Cardinals last year- sort of. He was with them in the post-season but in street clothes rather than in uniform and he feels that he didn't contribute very much to that team in a year spent mostly on the disabled list. And it's the desire to prove that he can be a major league player of quality that drives him now.

  Last year Bigbie first suffered a stress fracture in his left foot that put him on the DL early in the season. He finally got into action but after only 17 games had a sports hernia that required surgery to repair. He tried to come back- twice, in fact, with rehab stints in the minors but, in both cases, the pain was too intense so he shuffled sadly to the sidelines.

  Now, after signing a minor league deal with the Dodgers, he's here to show, "That I'm a better player than that. You know, I was a pretty good player with the Orioles," he says, almost defensively.

  He was, for sure, when he hit .303 for Baltimore in 2003 and .280 with 15 homers in 2004  He was a regular then and even in his few moments with the Cards, he was 4-for-8 as a pinchitter inbetween those injuries. He has more than ample reason to believe he's no minor leaguer.

  He's 29 now and healthy and it looked like the Dodgers simply had to make room for him in the first couple of spring games when he ripped the ball almost every time out. He's cooled down since then although in Friday's game, he scorched a triple and wound up trotting home when the relay went into the seats.

  Sunday, won the game in the last of the ninth, lining a sharp single to right field. He's generally looked like what he says he is- a guy who can contribute on the major league level.

  But is there any room for him? Jason Repko's looked equally fine and there's Marlon Anderson, who did so much in the closing days of 2006 but who is currently sidelined himself. If Anderson can get healthy, there probably has to be a spot for him so where does that leave Larry?

  These days the stands are liberally laced with scouts from other clubs evaluating what they can pick up come cutdown time so Bigbie's name could well appear on somebody's list of players they'd like to acquire.  Right now he's still a Dodger who may yet have plans for him themselves.

  He'd love to stay, he says, because this is a team that might-just might- get to the World Series in 2007. That could provide a scenario in which he could wear a ring, this time without blushing.