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When 31-year-old Dave Dombrowski took over the general manager's duties from Montreal Expo vice-president Bill Stoneman on July 5, few people south of the Canadian border took notice. But a lot happened in Dombrowski's first 10 days on the job. The Expos picked up three games on the division-leading New York Mets in less than a week. Then Dombrowski made significant trades with the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs to get a pair of good outfielders, Tracy Jones and Dave Martinez, and an outstanding pitching prospect, Pat Pacillo, in exchange for outfielders Herm Winningham and Mitch Webster, catcher Jeff Reed and pitcher Randy St. Claire. And when those deals were done, Dombrowski said, "We think we can still win the National League East."
Dombrowski says that the spark that ignited the previously inert Expos came from two players Montreal signed as minor league free agents last winter, 29-year-old outfielder Otis Nixon and 27-year-old second baseman Rex Hudler. Nixon, a career .211 hitter, stole 19 bases in 23 games after being called up in June from Indianapolis. Hudler, who has hit .153 lifetime, stole eight in his first 17 games. "They give us as much speed as any duo," says Dombrowski. If Nixon fades, Expo manager Buck Rodgers can platoon Jones and Martinez in centerfield. And Dombrowski is convinced that the bats of Andres Galarraga, Tim Raines, Tim Wallach and Hubie Brooks can get Montreal enough runs to support its pitching staff. "Our pitching is certainly good enough to win," says Dombrowski. He may be right, because Pascual Perez (6-3, 1.58 ERA) is back in action after missing six weeks with a broken finger. "He may be the top starter in the league," says Dombrowski. " Dennis Martinez [10-7, 2.51 ERA] is outstanding. The two kids, Brian Holman and John Dopson, have been great. And our bullpen [led by Jeff Parrett's 10 wins, including an 8-0 record in extra-inning games] is as good as any."
By the end of the week the Expos had won nine of 11 games, but were still 8� games behind the Mets, so they may not have a realistic shot at winning the division this year. But wait till 1989. Just look at Montreal's pitching: Behind Holman and Dopson are a stellar Triple A trio, including 6'10" lefthander Randy Johnson and righthanders Sergio Valdez and Pacillo.
EVERYBODY'S FAVORITE CAT
MAC: THE KNIFE
The firing of John McNamara as manager of the Boston Red Sox showed just how divided the club's top officials are. When the announcement was made at a press conference Thursday, CEO Haywood Sullivan expressed his objection to the firing, while general manager Lou Gorman said, "I'm just an employee." The decision was made, of course, by principal owner and president Jean Yawkey, and it was not an unpopular one with the vast majority of Bosox players. Late reliever Lee Smith had groused about McNamara's using him too early; twice Smith had been called into games in the seventh inning. Younger players like Mike Greenwell, Todd Benzinger and Jody Reed had for weeks been asking older hands when Mac would get the ax. Ace righthander Roger Clemens has not been a McNamara fan since the skipper pulled Clemens from Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and told the press, "My pitcher asked out." For her part, Yawkey seemed to hold McNamara responsible for several instances of unseemly behavior by players on buses and planes and in hotel lobbies, some of them resulting from the palimony suit filed against Wade Boggs.
Interim manager Joe Morgan, who skippered the Pawtucket farm club from 1974 to '82, won his first four games as the Bosox skipper and could end up with the job permanently. He is very popular with most of the players, some of whom, like Boggs and Marty Barrett, worked for him in the minors. Former Mets and Atlanta Braves manager Joe Torre and St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Mike Roarke are other candidates for the job.
As Morgan took over, the Red Sox signed Larry Parrish, who had just been released as the Texas Rangers' DH. McNamara had planned to use Parrish in rightfield, move Dwight Evans from right to first and bench Benzinger. But Morgan plans to stick with Benzinger and Evans, using Evans in right when Dewey feels healthy. So Parrish's presence will only turn up the heat under DH Jim Rice. What happens, said Gorman, "will depend on Rice." Rice's answer? The night Parrish signed (but hadn't yet reported), Rice was dropped from sixth to seventh in the batting order and went 5 for 6 in a doubleheader.