“Obviously, I have thought about what I have to do (to make the club),” La Roche said. “But all I can do is control myself and work hard.” There was a sense as recently as 48 hours ago, after Betemit went hitless in his first four spring at-bats and committed two errors in his first game, that the job was La Roche’s for the taking. But La Roche committed two errors of his own in this game, including a routine grounder by Moises Alou that would have ended the fifth inning that La Roche instead allowed to scoot between his legs and into left field. But La Roche’s finest moment came in that ninth inning. The Dodgers trailed 2-1 and had runners on second and third with none out after a double by Fernando Tatis. For many a young player pining to make a season-opening roster, this would have been the perfect situation to try to impress, to swing hard at everything in hopes of getting the big hit that would turn that one-run deficit into a one-run lead. But instead of getting over-anxious and chasing pitches out of his zone, La Roche patiently worked Adkins for a walk to load the bases and ultimately scored what would have been an important run if this would have been an important game. And that is the sort of thing general managers and managers tend to notice. But the funny thing is there is a chance this whole opening-day third baseman thing might be firmly in his control. If La Roche – the last man still waiting to reach the big leagues among a promising quintet of Dodgers prospects once known as the Jacksonville Five – continues to hit the way he has in the club’s first three exhibitions, he possibly could force his way into a spot that otherwise will go to incumbent Wilson Betemit. La Roche already is 3 for 8 for the spring, including a hard single off Mets fireballer Billy Wagner. He also drew a walk in the midst of a four-run, ninth-inning rally against Mets righty Jon Adkins. PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Andy La Roche dug out all the obligatory cliches after the Dodgers’ Grapefruit League game on Saturday, a 5-2 victory over the New York Mets at Tradition Field. The third-base prospect said his main goal this spring is to play the way he always has, to stay within himself and to not worry about things beyond his control. “That last at-bat, I was a little more selective,” La Roche said. “I was just trying to get on base.” That’s the kind of approach that allowed La Roche to post a combined on-base percentage well above .400 while splitting last season with Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Las Vegas. Betemit’s big-league on-base percentage last year, which he split between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, was well under .350. Left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, whose bid to land the fifth starter’s job officially began with two shutout innings in relief of Brad Penny, is pitching out of a windup without runners on base. Kuo didn’t do last year because he pitched out of the bullpen until moving into the rotation late in the season. “It’s just something they wanted me to do,” he said. “I have been working on it the whole off-season. Last year, at the end of the season, they told me to try to work on it.” Kuo said he didn’t use the windup while pitching in the Asian Games in December. Until now, he hasn’t used it since before his second Tommy John surgery in 2003. [email protected] (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!