Hu showing some flash

first_imgBut with Rafael Furcal eligible for free agency after next season, this guy could be the Dodgers’ everyday shortstop for years to come – if he learns to hit. “This young man has gained a lot of strength in one year,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “I can see him continuing to get stronger and more mature. I think his glove speaks for itself, and I think he definitely has a chance to play in the major leagues.” Hu has a respectable .290average in four minor league seasons, and he batted .313 in the high Single-A Florida State League two years ago. He hit .247 at Jacksonville and drew only 49 walks while striking out 63 times. “He hit too many fly balls,” Easler said. “So far this spring, he has only hit one. Putting the ball on the ground is going to be the key for him. He needs to become good at bunting and executing the hit-and-run. But he’s just going to continue to get better.” Beimel OK: Left-hander Joe Beimel, who felt discomfort in his elbow after pitching a shaky eighth inning in Monday’s win over Boston, played catch in Vero Beach on Tuesday and felt fine. Little said Beimel will stay on his regular program unless the problem recurs. “It’s nothing to be concerned with,” Little said. “It was just a little puffiness. For a person like him who has never had much (arm) trouble, it scared him a little bit.” In other injury news, Furcal (right shoulder) is almost ready to return, although Little said it won’t happen in either of today’s split-squad games. Meanwhile, utility man Marlon Anderson (right elbow) remains sidelined indefinitely. Little said he is confident both players still will get enough at-bats in the final 31/2weeks before Opening Day to be ready for the season. “Furcal could possibly DH,” Little said. “We could also send him back to the minor-league fields so he could get six or seven at-bats in a single day.” (818) 713-3675 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Hu also lunged far to his right and onto the grass to stop a smash by Chris Heintz in the eighth that Heintz nevertheless beat out. Although Hu isn’t a burner in the classic tradition of slightly built middle infielders, he does have enough speed to steal the occasional base and is a smart runner. With Choo Freeman batting and runners on first and second with none out in the seventh inning, Hu easily stole third base on a pitch from Julio De- Paula that was far enough off the plate to Freeman that it might as well have been a pitchout. That steal enabled Hu to jog home on Freeman’s subsequent groundout. “He said he picked up something from the catcher,” Easler said. “That shows he can pick up a breaking ball and give himself a chance to steal. That turned out to be big.” Hu, 23, is in big-league camp strictly for the experience and probably will be among the first players cut after the Dodgers’ final split-squad date March 15. The best he can realistically hope for this season is a September callup, but even that isn’t likely because it would require putting him on the 40-man roster. FORT MYERS, Fla. – The knock against Chin-lung Hu has always been, well, that there is no knock. There are some observers who wonder whether the skinny kid with the electrifying glove will ever hit enough to play in the majors. But the skinny kid isn’t so skinny anymore. The suddenly offensive Hu beat out twoinfield singles during the Dodgers’ Grapefruit League game Tuesday – a 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins in front of 7,015 at Hammond Stadium – and finished 3 for 4, raising his spring average to .444 (4 for 9). center_img “He has probably picked up 10 pounds this winter,” said Mike Easler, who was Hu’s hitting coach at Double-A Jacksonville last season and will be again if Hu moves to Triple-A Las Vegas. “He was a little small last year and lacked strength. I can tell he just has more confidence in himself. He looks so much better offensively.” Hu also showed some of his characteristic flash, going behind the bag to pick a grounder hit by Josh Rabe in the seventh and teaming with longtime double-play partner and fellow defensive wizard Tony Abreu to turn it into an inning-ending force at second. last_img