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BASEBALL
Peter Gammons
June 20, 1988
SCHOTT IN THE DARK
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June 20, 1988

Baseball

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Los Angeles was still in first place in the National League West at week's end, but things are far from perfect in Dodger Heaven. Third baseman Pedro Guerrero's arthritic condition, which put him into traction last week, could sideline him for a month; pitcher Jesse Orosco has been bothered by calcium deposits in his elbow; and shortstop Alfredo Griffin has a broken hand. On June 7, first baseman Mike Marshall's agent called general manager Fred Claire and insisted that Marshall be moved to rightfield to protect his chronically troubled back. So, two hours before a game with the Houston Astros, Dodger manager Tom Lasorda had to put outfielder Danny Heep at first. Heep, who had played first in only 95 games over a nine-year career, had trouble with several grounders and made one costly error that led to a 5-2 defeat for the Dodgers.

But no matter how well the Dodgers perform, it's likely that Lasorda will be looking for another team to manage when his contract runs out at the end of the season. Two possibilities are the Padres and the California Angels, and if Boston doesn't replace manager John McNamara before the end of the season, we could see Lasorda in a Red Sox uniform next year.

GREEN STREAK

Former Chicago Cubs general manager Dallas Green may be out of baseball, but he still has a lot to say. Here are some examples:

?On the young talent of the Cubs: "It has become obvious we knew what we were doing, and if we were let alone a little longer, this [the emergence of stars such as Rafael Palmeiro and Mark Grace] would have happened [for us].... The organization is not in as good shape right now as when I left it."

?On successor Jim Frey's trades: "My wife Sylvia could have traded [pitcher] Lee Smith. The thing that had to be done in winter was to trade [first baseman Leon] Durham. That would have freed [first baseman] Grace to play right away."

?On former Cub Dennis Eckersley's success as a closer for the Oakland Athletics: "I begged our manager [ Frey] and field people to put Eckersley in the bullpen. They couldn't see it, and I had to trade him."

?On Philadelphia Phillies owner Bill Giles's promise not to hire Green to replace recently fired general manager Woody Woodward: " Giles has spent the last seven years trying to rid the organization of all the Dallas Green-type people who love the game and work hard."

UP ON DOWNS
According to a poll of scouts and managers, the National League pitchers with the best split-fingered fastballs are Houston's Mike Scott, San Francisco's Kelly Downs, Los Angeles's Tim Leary, New York's Ron Darling (although he uses it as a changeup) and Pittsburgh's Jeff Robinson. "Downs may be the best pitcher in the league for six innings," says one scout. Six times this season the hard-luck Giants' righthander has gone into the fourth inning with a no-hitter, but his record at week's end was 4-6.

THE LAST WORD
When Seattle Mariners manager Dick Williams was fired June 6, nobody was surprised that he had a few words to say about pitcher Mark Langston, who had blasted Williams in the press the day before. "The only thing I don't like," said Williams, "is that our so-called ace pitcher, who doesn't have a gut in his body, probably will be credited with making this happen. A lot of things about that young man leave a lot to be desired. Langston took himself out of games. He didn't have the guts to finish them. He's a self-centered individual, and if he's the ace of the staff, then they're in trouble."

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