LaRoche Finally Gets Back To The Show

The Dodgers optioned rookie shortstop Chin-lung Hu to Triple-A Las Vegas and called up Andy LaRoche, some 90 days after he was injured in a freak accident during spring training. Hu was obviously was overmatched at the plate, batting .159 with a .224 on-base percentage and .206 slugging percentage.

  LaRoche came into spring training with a chance to unseat Nomar Garciaparra at third base but within only minutes of each other both were injured and out of the race. DeWitt missed the first month of the season recovering from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament and was playing in Las Vegas. He was batting .277 with five home runs.

However, he was leading the Dodger minor league system with a .439 on-base percentage and was fourth in OPS (on base plus slugging) with an .850 mark.
br> Over the past weeks he has been working at all the infield positions to become more valuable to the Dodgers.

His willingness to become more versatile has impressed the organization. "The most important thing," Manager Joe Torre said. "is he doesn't feel like we're making him do something that he's not comfortable with. He knows this is probably a quicker ticket to the big leagues." LaRoche was hit on his hand by a pitch a night or so ago but it was not serious and he collected two hits in three trips in the next game.

LaRoche will serve as a backup to Blake DeWitt at third base, James Loney at first base and even Jeff Kent at second base and be in line for Kent's job when the veteran finally decides to hang up his glove.

Angel Berroa was obtained in a trade with Kansas City and the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year will start at shortstop until Rafael Furcal's return, then become the primary middle-infield backup.

DeWitt is doing the job at third base and was originally a second baseman so the Dodgers have options there but they would not switch during the season, instead waiting until spring training next year.

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