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Some moves Lasorda didn't make have also paid off for the Dodgers. He stuck with Steve Sax when people suggested he ought to find a second baseman who could throw the ball to first base and not to the box seats—and he never gave up on the much-maligned Brock despite his .222 average the two previous seasons. Sax no longer handles the ball like a live grenade, and Brock is outhitting his celebrated predecessor at first base, Garvey, by 13 points and three homers.
"When the guys were down this spring, Tommy would take them to dinner and tell them to keep their heads up," says bullpen coach Mark Cresse. "He knows that when a guy's down, that's the time to go to him. The key to success is knowing how to build players up."
Through it all, the Wizard has sat in his office babbling in English, Spanish and Italian and greeting his customary gaggle of stars and scribes. "Johnny Mathis!" he boomed as the singer dropped in one day last week. "How many people know what a great high school high jumper you were?" In walked... "Lindsay Wagner!!!" The phone rang. "Reggie!" he yelled into the receiver, not the least surprised that former Dodger Reggie Smith was calling him for the first time in a couple of years. "Come on over—we'd love to see you!"
Ricky Honeycutt, pitcher Rick Honeycutt's 3-year-old son, bounded into Lasorda's arms. "Hello, Ricky, who do you love?" Lasorda said.
"Positive brainwashing," the senior Honeycutt said later. "Tommy asks Ricky the same question every time and gets the same answer. And he's the same way with adults: He's a motivator."
For his part, Lasorda can look for motivation to a poster of Guerrero in a far corner of his office. Advertising baseball shoes, Pedro is posing with a smoldering expression on his face and a smoking bat. The caption reads BLUE THUNDER.
Smoking bat? Blue thunder? There must be a wizard at work.