Saturday, February 25, 2012
Random third-base items ...
By Tony Jackson
Someone asked me on Twitter the other day whether Jerry Sands could be a possibility at 3B. Someone asked Don Mattingly today that same question. Here's the answer:
"He tried it. Honestly, it looked rough to me. He is a lot better on the first-base side for me. He looked a lot better there, more comfortable, at first base and both corners of the outfield. Third is not one of those positions where you can just throw a guy over there and teach him to play third. If you do it, you have to say, 'OK, you're going to play third every day.' ''
And speaking of third, Mattingly talked a little about the three games he spent there in 1986, making him the last left-handed guy ever to play third base in the majors. Said he only made one error, turned a double play on the first ball hit to him and actually had a great time playing there at the request of Yankees manager Lou Piniella, who was trying to be creative in an effort to get more offense into his lineup.
"But after those three games,'' Mattingly said, "I was so sore I couldn't wipe my ... ''
On yet another third-base note, Mattingly said he seriously considered sticking James Loney over there on at least one occasion last year before deciding against it. That, of course, would have meant that Mattingly would no longer have been the last left-handed guy ever to play third base in the majors.
Finally, speaking of third basemen, I spotted one from the past. As the Dodgers hit the field, I wandered over to the White Sox side for maybe the third time in the four years that Camelback Ranch has been in existence. When I got there, I saw that familiar No. 23 of Robin Ventura, leaning against a batting cage, watching his guys taking BP. The rookie manager of the White Sox remains to this day one of my favorite players I have ever covered. I remember when he "announced'' his retirement, in a simple answer to a simple question in the clubhouse immediately following the Dodgers' elimination from the 2004 N.L. Division Series by the Cardinals. Said at the time he wanted to take a couple of years completely off before getting back into the game in some capacity, perhaps on the coaching end. I'm not sure this was what he had in mind, but here he is, and I wish him all the best. He's a good guy, and if ownership and the front office stick with him long enough, I feel fairly certain he'll be successful in his new role.