"You have to see if there's a fit at the Major League level. That's why you see Aybar learning center field and second base, Wood third base, Figgy center field, third base. You never know what you're going to be presented with down the road."Robb Quinlan is probably as good an example as anybody. He was projected in A ball as a first baseman and DH, and through hard work, he's been able to play third base and the outfield." Another athlete competing for a roster spot, Tommy Murphy, had never played the outfield when he was moved from shortstop in the spring of 2004 after four seasons in the Angels' system. Undergoing a second transformation, from right-handed hitter to switch-hitter, Murphy has made steady progress and could figure prominently as the club's fourth outfielder with his full complement of talents. The Angels did a little coconut snatching on the fly last season with Howie Kendrick, turning the second baseman into a first baseman when the need surfaced. Kendrick's versatility enabled him to play first well enough to get his bat in the lineup, and he hit .303 in the second half. He's back at second base now, but he acknowledges that the time at first gave him a chance to get his feet planted on Major League ground. "I was just happy to play," Kendrick said. "Anything to get to the big leagues." That's the motto for Aybar, a 23-year-old speed merchant from Bani, Dominican Republic. Taking his cue from Figgins -- a shortstop who adapted beautifully to second and the outfield and now is an everyday third baseman -- Aybar has been happy to try his hands at new positions. "I like it out there [in center]," Aybar said. "It's fun to play with all that room. I just want to play. Whatever I can do to help the team, that's what I'll do." That was the attitude Al Campanis was looking for when he moved Lopes from center to second and Russell from center to shortstop as young players. This created the foundation of an infield in Los Angeles -- with Garvey and Ron Cey at the corners -- that endured together for a record eight seasons.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less