LOS ANGELES, CA– With Gold glove first baseman Freddie Freeman anchoring down the right line and Max Muncy solid at third base, the Dodgers were in need of that all important “Up the middle” combo to fill the void left when AllStar shortstop Trea Turner left for Philadelphia followed by a season ending injury to Turner’s heir apparent, Gavin Lux.
The went out and signed Miguel Rojas, Los Teques, Venezuela to play shortstop and moved Miguel Vargas, La Habana, Cuba, to second base. If the past two days is any indication of what is to be for the Dodgers this season, LA is in good shape up the middle in the infield. They are playing like they have been doing it together for years. Both showed very good range and speed covering balls hit up the middle as well as looking sharp on double plays, throws from the outfield on sliding runners and going back on those pop-ups in no-man’s land in the outfield. Vargas has become a vacuum at second base, making tough plays look routine.
The importance of these two positions is pivotal to the stability of a winning team. Rojas has the experience and Vargas is learning a new position. He has put in countless hours in the off season. Flying on his own out to LA to work with Dino Ebel, the third base coach and team fielding guru for the Dodgers, who works relentlessly with his players every day. Freddie Freeman told me that, “It’s all about repetition in the everyday drills Dino works us out with.” Credit Dino for Vargas’s success to date.
Vargas has said that working with Dino this winter as well as Plácido Polanco, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, has been priceless. “They’ve helped me a lot and now I feel a lot more comfortable playing second.” Dino said, “He still needs a lot of work but is a plus runner and can cover a lot of ground. It’s all about his first three steps left or right. That to me is what it is all about.”
Talking to a Major league scout he questions whether or not Vargas can get up to that plus speed playing second base because he is so tall. I don’t know about that, he looks good to me and so far, the Dodgers also like what they see.
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