DODGING THE BULLET
With Fernando Valenzuela probably out for the season with a sore shoulder, Los Angeles Dodger general manager Fred Claire is trying to be patient in his search for another starting pitcher. Claire wants to see how 43-year-old Don Sutton fares now that he's back from a minor league injury-rehab stint, whether Mario Soto can come back from his arm injury and if, as some within the Dodger organization feel, 20-year-old righthander Ramon Martinez (5-2 at Albuquerque) is ready for the bigs.
The Dodgers want a lefty to take Valenzuela's place, but if the cost is too high for, say, Don Carman of Philadelphia or potential free-agent Mike Flanagan of Toronto (whom the Blue Jays do not want to trade), Los Angeles would love to reacquire Texas Rangers knuckleballer Charlie Hough, a Tom Lasorda favorite when Hough notched 60 saves for the Dodgers from 1970 to '80. Hough is available, but most contending teams are reluctant to trade for him now because there isn't enough time to train a catcher to handle Hough's knuckler. But the Dodgers have Rick Dempsey, who caught Tom Candiotti in Cleveland, and Mike Scioscia, who caught Hough before he left L.A.
If they could, the Dodgers would take back righty starter Bob Welch, whom they traded to Oakland during the off-season. Of the three players they received for Welch, only righty reliever Jay Howell (14 saves, 2.23 ERA) has been productive; shortstop Alfredo Griffin is hitting .158 and reliever Jesse Orosco's fastball is down to 82 mph.
By the way, how would you like to make the Dodgers' decisions this winter? Their free-agent list will include Valenzuela, Orosco, Howell, Griffin, Soto, Sutton, Pedro Guerrero, Steve Sax, Mike Marshall and Alejandro Pena.
BOTTOM OF THE BARREL
With his Milwaukee Brewers sinking in the American League East despite having the league's best team ERA, general manager Harry Dalton looked around for some power hitters and discovered, he says, "The greatest shortage in the minors, other than talented catchers, is right-handed power hitters." Milwaukee's farm system has two top power prospects in infielder Gary Sheffield and outfielder Greg Vaughn at Denver and El Paso, respectively, but about the only other top righthanded power prospects are Boston's outfielder-first baseman Carlos Quintana and the Yankees' third baseman Hensley (Bam-Bam) Meulens, And Meulens, scouts say, not only needs more than a year to develop as a hitter, but he also needs to find another position to play.
THE CINCINNATI BLUES, CONT.
The struggles of baseball's biggest underachievers—the Cincinnati Reds—continued last week. Two of their three best starting pitchers ripped into the club.
"Where's the team aspect, the togetherness, the enthusiasm I heard and read about before I came to the Reds this spring?" said righthander Jose Rijo, who has gone 3-4 in his last eight starts despite a 2.04 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 57⅓ innings.
Lefty Danny Jackson added: "Sometimes it seems as if they don't care. We need every individual on this team to be ready. If not, sit down or take your losing attitude to another team."