Alomar trying to salvage career

Updated: March 6, 2004, 3:07 AM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Arizona Diamondbacks were playing a meaningless intrasquad scrimmage -- the kind you have to shove toothpicks in your eyes to watch from start to finish -- when Roberto Alomar made a play guaranteed to quicken pulses and elicit postgame discussion.

Runner on first base. Hard shot up the middle. Alomar glides to his right, snags the ball in his glove and flips a no-look pass to second base in one motion for the force. The only things missing were Omar Vizquel on the receiving end and 40,000 fans to gasp their approval.

But Arizona general manager Joe Garagiola was watching, and his mind raced with possibilities.

"I said, 'Wow,' " Garagiola said. "There couldn't be very many second basemen who would make that play,' and he did it in the first intrasquad game. It was breathtaking."

For the past two years, Alomar has generated the wrong kind of "wows." As in, "Wow, how could a player dominate games for so many years with his speed, defense, all-around skill and baseball instincts and so suddenly go in the tank?"

Alomar isn't far removed from making 12 All-Star Games and winning 10 Gold Glove Awards at second base. After two straight summers of weak groundouts and wall-to-wall lethargy, it just seems like a long time ago.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer