Thursday, February 28, 2008

Torre Channels The Ghost of Grady Little

Gentlemen, get your crossbows ready, because the first card Joe Torre is playing...strongly favors the veterans.

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Juan Pierre will be leading off and Rafael Furcal batting second on Thursday at 10:05 a.m. PT when the Dodgers open what will likely be their last Florida exhibition season against the Braves at Holman Stadium.

Manager Joe Torre said the alignment is not necessarily the way the Dodgers will start the regular season, but he seems to be leaning that way. Torre has made no secret that he likes the speed of Pierre, the likely Opening Day starter in left field, atop the lineup. Torre's predecessor, Grady Little, preferred to bat Furcal leadoff and Pierre second.

Torre said that Nomar Garciaparra will start at third base on Thursday and that "being a veteran, he has the inside track on the starting third-base job." Garciaparra and rookie Andy LaRoche are contenders for the job.

Torre did not release his batting order, but he said all of his regulars will start. That means that in addition to Pierre, Furcal and Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, James Loney, Andruw Jones, Matt Kemp and Russell Martin will start.

I suppose it's only spring training, let's not get too alarmed, and it's only natural to defer to the veterans in the first game. This will be one interesting spring to watch; let's hope that Andre Ethier and Andy LaRoche aren't sitting beside us watching all spring.