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FATHER KNOWS BEST
Montreal's Felipe Alou made a successful debut as a major league manager last year. This season he has juggled his lineup so deftly that he's making a case for himself as a Manager of the Year candidate.
Because of illness, injury and uncertain prospects at a number of positions, Alou used the same lineup in consecutive games only once last month. Second baseman Delino DeShields missed almost two weeks with chicken pox. Rightfielder Larry Walker missed seven starts with a hamstring injury. Alou has used six different players at first base and has no proven third baseman or catcher. Last Thursday his cleanup hitter was rookie third baseman Frank Bolick, who had never hit a homer in the majors. Bolick promptly homered in a 7-3 win over the Dodgers. "I told our guys to get used to changes," says Alou. "I'll make them at any time."
Despite some pitching woes—closer John Wetteland missed most of April because of a broken toe, and ace Dennis Martinez had only one win—the Expos still were 13-12 through Sunday, mostly because they were leading the National League in batting. "I'm not satisfied with where we are," Alou says, "but a lot has happened to us so far. We're still looking for the right combinations."
The changes are expected to continue at third base and catcher, but Greg Colbrunn is going to get a look as the regular first baseman, at least for the time being. "Our first baseman of the future is Cliff Floyd [currently at Double A Harrisburg], but the future might be May or June," says Alou. "It's wide open."
Even more impressive than his clever manipulation of his roster, though, has been Alou's handling of his son, leftfielder Moises Alou. Managing a son in the major leagues can be difficult—just ask Royal manager Hal McRae and his son, Brian, the Royals' centerfielder, who would just as soon not have the burden of being on the same team. The same is not true for the Alous. "Being in the major leagues, playing for my father, is like a dream," says Moises.
Yet Felipe benched his son for three games two weeks ago because Moises was 2 for 22 in his previous seven games. "The best cure for a slump is the bench," Felipe says, "not just with my son but anyone's son. He had lost some confidence. I had to bench him. But he understands why. He took it like a man."
Says Moises, "I was upset, but when he does something like that, I realize there's always a purpose for it. It happened last year, and it happened this year. And each time, I came back strong." Through Sunday, Moises had hit .483 (14 for 29) since the benching.
Father and son are very close, but it wasn't always that way. Felipe and his first wife, Maria, divorced when Moises was two years old, and Moises didn't spend much time with his dad as a child. "He never got to see me play growing up," Moises says. "It makes me feel great now to have a good game with him watching."
A MIGHTY MITE