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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : DODGERS : Bournigal Sharp in Start at Short

September 13, 1993|MARYANN HUDSON

Rafael Bournigal made his first start at shortstop Sunday and demonstrated why his defense is highly regarded by the Dodgers. Bournigal turned a tough double play in the first inning on a hard-hit ball by Jeff Conine that took a bad hop right before it reached Bournigal, who handled it flawlessly.

Bournigal, 27, has been the starting shortstop for the Albuquerque Dukes the past 2 1/2 seasons, but his progress has been limited because he's playing behind Jose Offerman and the Dodgers haven't thought he could hit well enough.

But Sunday, Bournigal got two of the Dodgers' six hits, including a hard-hit double down the left-field line in his first at-bat. "Defense has always come easy for me, so I've worked hard this season on my hitting and my numbers are better," said Bournigal, who batted .277 with 25 doubles and 55 runs batted in at Albuquerque. "My goal is to be the backup shortstop next season. Hopefully I can prove I can play so I don't have to go back."

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Left-handed pitcher Ben VanRyn, a highly regarded prospect, was named the Texas League pitcher of the year. VanRyn, who ended the season with trible-A Albuquerque, was 14-4 with a 2.21 ERA and 144 strikeouts while with double-A San Antonio.

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