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Some more rest for Garciaparra

Times Staff Writer

The impact of what Grady Little called “that 17-inning deal” continued to be felt two days afterward when Nomar Garciaparra was held out of the lineup for only the second time this season.

The first baseman had eight at-bats during the Dodgers’ 5-4 marathon victory over the San Diego Padres, then was removed in the seventh inning Monday when the Arizona Diamondbacks took a commanding lead.

Two innings wasn’t enough rest to satisfy Little.

“We would have stretched his playing out to the off-day Thursday if it wasn’t for” the 17-inning game, he said.

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Although Garciaparra said he felt fit enough to play, he trusts Little to pace him properly.

“The older you get, the less you question what the manager does,” he said. “You put faith in him because he must have a plan. I never ask why or what.”

Part of the plan was to use Garciaparra as a pinch-hitter with runners on base. He walked with two on and two out in the sixth inning and remained in the game at first base.

Little said during spring training that Garciaparra would get frequent days off in an effort to avoid the drop-off in performance he experienced last season when his batting average dropped from .330 to .303 the last six weeks and he fought injuries.

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“He’s been very impressive so far,” Little said. “You just do everything in your power to make sure it continues on. His playing time will depend on the schedule.”

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Little said 39-year-old left fielder Luis Gonzalez and possibly 39-year-old second baseman Jeff Kent would get today off.

They might put up more of a fuss than Garciaparra.

“They throw their sales points out and I throw out mine,” Little said. “Then I make the decision.”

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Juan Pierre’s offensive game is built on speed and, as the saying goes, he can’t outrun a fly ball. But hitting the ball on the ground all the time is easier said than done. And Pierre hasn’t been doing enough of it lately.

“I try to drive the ball, slap the ball, put it in play any way I can,” Pierre said. “Sometimes you just get into a streak where you’re just hitting the bottom half of the ball.”

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Said Little: “You can see how he gets his 200 hits a year. He’s also going to make 500 outs.” Hitting more groundballs “would give him a better shot at getting 250 hits.”

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Yhency Brazoban is scheduled to pitch one inning today and one inning Thursday for triple-A Las Vegas. If all goes well, the hard-throwing right-handed reliever could rejoin the Dodgers soon thereafter, putting him about one month ahead of schedule in his recovery from elbow ligament replacement surgery. Finding a roster spot for Brazoban could be a challenge. Little is leaning toward expanding the pitching staff from 11 to 12 -- especially in the wake of the 17-inning game.

“It started entering my mind in the 13th inning, and stayed there the next day too,” he said.

Trimming a position player would be a challenge. The two most expendable players, third baseman Wilson Betemit and utility player Wilson Valdez, would have to clear waivers before being sent to triple-A. The Dodgers believe Valdez could clear waivers but that Betemit would have no chance.

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steve.henson@latimes.com


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