Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hello from Scrubbsville

Or, "Is 'Labandeira' Spanish for "The Mark Teixiera Band'?"

No, probably not. But the Porterville (Ca.) Record does give a nice shout-out a local hero, and, insofar as the words "Josh Labandeira" have never (if I recall) appeared at this blog, I thought it would be nice to catch up with Josh.

The linked article provides a recap of poor Josh's plight:

[Labandeira played] seven games with the big-league club at the end of the 2004 season. Hampered with a sore arm since July, a postseason MRI revealed he had torn 50 percent of the glenoid capsule in his shoulder,
requiring surgery and rehabilitation. The glenoid capsule is part of the
glenhohumeral joint that allows 360-degree motion. The injury was to his
throwing arm.


Now, as Lieutenant Caffee might say, "I don't know what any of that means, but it sounds pretty bad."

Indeed:

On Oct. 15 the shortstop had surgery and after months of rehabilitation he reported to minor league spring training on Feb. 27 in Melbourne, Fla. [. . .] Presently, Labandeira is fielding ground balls and entering games as the designated hitter, but has yet to make a throw to first.

This last sentence, by the way, reframes the issue of my attention to the New Orleans squad in MVP Baseball 2005 from "benignly neglectful" to "extraordinarily prescient." I can't remember if the computer or I arranged it this way, but he's New Orleans's DH in the video game, and I haven't bothered to change it yet.

If you put two-and-two together (which the article doesn't really, though that's no great sin, considering it's a local profile), Labandeira's injury couldn't have come at a worse time. It's common knowledge that Jim Bowden (a/k/a "Trading Junkie") is looking for a dedicated back-up to Cristian Guzman, beyond just utility man Jamey Carroll. A healthy Labandeira is an option, as he advocates:

"I may have had the best arm in the organization, infield-wise," said Labandeira, who knows he has a long road back to the Majors. "If Guzman goes down, I need to be healthy and be playing at the level I was playing last year ... I don't see that being a problem."

Good attitude.

What else could Labandeira offer the team? Or, phrased another way, could he fill in if Guzman were injured for a long stretch? I don't know. He's performed okay---decent average, pretty good OBP---in the lower minors, though usually as a guy a step old for his level. Last year, as a 25 year-old repeater at Double-A, he hit .270/.357/.381, which isn't a bad line for the Eastern League. He also committed 32 errors, which might have been the glenoid, uh, the thing wrong with him.

Then again, in his previous two full seasons, he'd committed 25 errors (splitting time between A- and Double-A) and 34 errors (in a full season at A-ball). Even granting that minor league infields aren't exactly pristine all the time, I'm not sure that Bowden will look at Labandeira's C.V. and say, "Hey, there's my defensive caddy."

We'll root for Josh, though---as, I'm sure, will the town of Porterville.

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