Will Blake DeWitt Be the Dodgers' Starting Second Baseman in 2010?

Justin MarkowitzContributor IMarch 23, 2010

DENVER - APRIL 26:  Third baseman Blake DeWitt #33 of the Los Angeles Dodgers plays defense against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 26, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. Marquis earned the win as the Rockies defeated the Dodgers 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Blake DeWitt is, without a doubt, having no trouble smashing the ball this spring. DeWitt is hitting a strong .368, with 2 home runs, and 5 RBI while playing 14 games and having 38 at-bats.  There is only one small problem that he is having: fielding the ball.

His lack of fielding is quite a problem, considering he is playing second base, which is a position known to get a lot of ground balls and is expected to easily turn double plays. DeWitt has already committed three errors this spring and there are still two weeks until Opening Day.

Dewitt has botched easy backhand plays and has not turned a double-play pivot. Even though these games do not count, his errors have led to unearned runs, which has concerned manager Joe Torre. DeWitt's fielding is the only thing hindering Torre from granting him the starting job at second base.  

Former Dodger Jeff Kent was not known for his fielding either because of his lack of speed, but he could at least make routine plays and pivot very well. Kent also hit 20 to 30 home runs per season for most of his career, while DeWitt has not survived a full major league season to date.

If DeWitt can keep tearing it up at the plate, I think Torre might accept that his fielding isn't the best and just have him try to improve during the season. DeWitt's competition, Ronnie Belliard, is only hitting .167 this spring, coming off last season hitting .351 once putting on the Dodger blue uniform. Jamey Carroll is also in a spot where he could possibly take the starting job at second base, while hitting .400 this spring in just 15 at-bats.  

Veterans usually have the advantage when vying for a starting job, but DeWitt is still not out of the picture. Because his fielding is not great, there's probably a small chance that the Dodgers will send him to the minors, even if he keeps up his hitting. Either way, DeWitt needs to prove it to Joe Torre and himself that he can improve his fielding while handling the starting job at second base.