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03/21/11 2:19 PM ET

Thames preparing to spend time at first base

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Marcus Thames, signed to platoon in left field with Jay Gibbons and Tony Gwynn, was in the Dodgers' lineup for Monday's day game at first base. He's played 44 games there in the last three seasons.

"Something I had to do if I wanted to play," said Thames, who has outplayed his outfield defensive reputation so far this spring. "[Manager Jim] Leyland called me in the offseason before '07 and asked if I had a first-base glove. I said no. He said, 'We'll get you one.' Whatever it takes."

Thames said he's been taking grounders at first lately. He said Rafael Belliard, Carlos Guillen and Sean Casey helped him learn the position that spring with the Tigers.

"I do the best I can there," he said. "This is in case somebody gets hurt, in a pinch. I know James [Loney] likes to play every day, but in an emergency, I'm willing."

Manager Don Mattingly said Thames would probably play the position only against an occasional tough left-handed pitcher.

Thames said he learned that there's "a lot more going on over there than people think -- being in the right place on cuts and relays."

And then there are pickoff throws.

"We had [Joel] Zumaya," he said of the high-octane reliever. "That part wasn't fun."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.