Manager Davey Johnson calls 24-year-old Eric Gagne "the best French-speaking pitcher I've ever seen." The Dodgers found Gagne (pronounced gahn-YAY) in high school in Montreal, where he grew up playing baseball and hockey. "I was a goon, just protecting the better players," he says of his on-ice persona. "I've always been a better baseball player." L.A. signed Gagne in 1995 as a 19-year-old undrafted free agent and then waited for him to recover from Tommy John elbow surgery two years later. He arrived at spring training in '99 with prescription goggles, a vestige of his hockey days. "I couldn't wear contacts anymore because of all the scratches in my eyes," he says. Over the past two years Gagne is 22-12 with a 3.03 ERA and 349 strikeouts in 338? innings, including five impressive starts (1-1, 2.10) with the Dodgers last season. Warning to hitters: Think twice before charging him on the mound, eh?