Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Phil Collins Croons for Blake DeWitt

Jerry Crasnick's latest piece describes nine players who depended on strong spring performances, as well as other circumstances, to achieve the amazing fortune and unlikely position of opening day starting roles. And #1 is none other than the Dodgers' own new sensation (easy there, INXS fans; this article's musical reference is already taken): Third baseman Blake DeWitt.

Blake DeWitt, 3B, Dodgers

Remember how Shea Stadium used to be known as a revolving door for third basemen? Now it's Chavez Ravine. Over the past five seasons, Adrian Beltre, Bill Mueller, Jose Valentin, Wilson Betemit and DeWitt have started on Opening Day for the Dodgers.

DeWitt ranked well down manager Joe Torre's depth chart upon arrival at spring training. But when Andy LaRoche, Nomar Garciaparra and Tony Abreu landed on the disabled list, opportunity knocked. In his Dodgers debut Monday, DeWitt singled off Zito in his first career at-bat, walked twice and scored two runs in a 5-0 victory over San Francisco.

In the 2004 draft, the Dodgers picked DeWitt and fellow Missouri native Scott Elbert in the first round. Former big league outfielder Mitch Webster, now a Dodgers scout, signed both players. According to Orange County Register columnist Mark Whicker, Webster refers to them as the "Missouri Mules."

While DeWitt hits from the left side, one scout said his full-fledged devotion to baseball is similar to David Wright's.

"I loved him when I saw him in high school," the scout said. "He wanted to hit all day, and he'd do anything the scouts wanted him to do. He's sort of a baseball rat."

DeWitt has his teeth in an opportunity now, and he has a chance to make a big impression if he's ready to seize the moment.

With a nice double steal last night to start putting pressure on the formerly untouchable Matt Cain, DeWitt is sure making an impact. Keep this up and we might not long for the days of Adrian Beltre.