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DODGERS NOTEBOOK: WAITING GAME FOR BOCACHICA.

Byline: Rich Hammond Staff Writer

The days of anxiety have long since passed for Hiram Bocachica, although he won't be certain he has made the Dodgers' 25-man roster until he sees the official list.

Bocachica figures to stick with the Dodgers as a utility infielder/outfielder, a versatile 26-year-old who is also valuable as a pinch runner. But there are a couple of roster decisions to be made and Bocachica knows a player in his position can never feel secure.

``I've been through this before,'' Bocachica said, ``and it's just one of those things that you can't control, so why stress about it? You think about it a little at first, but you try not to let it bother you. I'm pretty happy. I've had a lot of at-bats and a lot of opportunities and that's all you can ask for when you're somebody in my position.''

Bocachica entered Friday night's game against Cleveland at Dodger Stadium with a .267 average and tied for fourth on the team with six RBI. He hit .233 in 133 at-bats last season, and showed his versatility this spring by playing second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions.

``It was my first experience in that role and my first year with the team,'' Bocachica said. ``The guys on the team helped me along a lot, helped teach me how to be a professional, and I hope I can continue to improve.''

--Nice start: Left fielder Brian Jordan played his first home game for the Dodgers on Friday and hit a three-run home run in his first at-bat as the Dodgers led the Indians 8-4 after six innings. Dave Roberts led off the first with a walk and moved to second on Cesar Izturis' fielder's-choice groundout. Shawn Green walked to set up Jordan, who lined an 0-2 pitch over the left-field wall.

Dodgers starter Odalis Perez gave up four runs on nine hits and struck out three in five innings. Eric Karros had an RBI double in the third for a 4-0 Dodgers lead.

--Important duo: The Dodgers' other new position players, Roberts (center field) and Izturis (shortstop), also made their Dodger Stadium debuts, and manager Jim Tracy hopes they will provide some stability in a couple of different ways. Izturis will be the Dodgers' sixth starting opening-day shortstop in six seasons, and manager Jim Tracy hopes Izturis, hitting second, will team well with Roberts, the leadoff hitter, to provide some spark at the top of the order.

``We need to put this (Izturis) in position to make some productive outs,'' Tracy said, ``to put people at third base with less than two outs and give this pitching staff, which I think is pretty damn good, a run early in the game to work with.''

--Jet lagging? Many of the Dodgers played their third game in three cities in three days Friday, following the conclusion of spring training in Vero Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, and a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Las Vegas on Thursday.

After today's game, the team will fly to Seattle for its final exhibition game on Sunday, then travel back home to prepare for opening day on Tuesday.

``I think the off day Monday will help,'' bench coach Jim Riggleman said. ``It will be a little taxing before that, but with having Monday off, we should good a chance to regroup. Jim Tracy does just a great job of monitoring these guys' innings and at-bats to make sure they don't get overused.''

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HIRAM BOCACHICA

He figures to make the Dodgers roster, but he knows there's always room for doubt.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 30, 2002
Words:606
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