Nomar Garciaparra and wife/soccer legend Mia Hamm are getting prepared for their celebrity soccer challenge on January 26 to promote funds and awareness for bone marrow transplant patients and their families. Good for them. In between talking soccer (which for the record, I absolutely hate. I mean seriously, what is so much fun about watching a 1-0 game all the time?), he discussed the upcoming season. Here's a quote:
"I'm preparing myself for whatever. I want to be flexible and agile if I'm asked to play other positions besides third base. I always prepare myself to do whatever's asked of me. Right now it's third base. But I've talked to Torre and he loves the fact, being in the National League, that I can play other positions. I don't think that's a sign that I won't be playing third base. We've just seen before how things change and I want to be flexible."
The rest of the article, which can be read right here, mainly goes into last season's debacle, sitting the bench in September, and how he still respects Grady Little.
Having a guy of his caliber, a six-time All-Star for crying out loud, around the clubhouse is always a good thing. Looking at things realistically, he only has had 1/2 a good season in 2 years with LA. The good was obviously the first part of the 2006 season, where he hit .358 with 11 HR and 53 RBI. He made the All-Star team, though it was by fan vote, which still pisses me off that he was originally left off. Anyway... injuries tanked his hitting to only .222 in the 2nd half, and was a complete non-factor in the playoffs vs. the Mets.
Last year, his power numbers were slim and none, and slim took a hike! Hitting .283 wasn't bad, but with 7 HR and 59 RBI. Yuck. 121 games, 431 at-bats, and only 7 homers to show for it. It's safe to see why Little wasn't comfortable playing him in September, whether you agree with the decision or not. His body was just broken down.
The general consensus is that Andy LaRoche should get the nod, and I can't disagree with that. He's proven he can hit anywhere in the minors, now it's time to step it up on the big stage. Since injuries happen to every team, having a guy like Nomar who can play any infield position ready on the bench is a big plus. All it takes is 1 rolled ankle to turn a season around (ask Rafael Furcal about that), so playing time could always jump in no time. Hopefully LaRoche will produce and Nomar can become the ultimate utility man, still getting plenty of PT.