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Dodgers to Try Bowling Over the Cardinals

October 09, 1985|GORDON EDES | Times Staff Writer

The mementos of October are usually preserved at Cooperstown.

But should the Dodgers defeat the Cardinals in the National League playoffs that begin today at Dodger Stadium, Pedro Guerrero may have something to donate not to baseball's Hall of Fame but to the archivists who work across the street from Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

As any fan of Earl Anthony could tell you, that's where the Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum is located. Guerrero probably couldn't tell you the difference between a bowling alley and Tin Pan Alley, but that didn't keep him from showing up at Dodger Stadium Tuesday wearing a bowling glove on his left hand.

Yes, a bowling glove, a simple leather strap that fits over the thumb and wraps around the hand and which the Dodgers hope will give support to a sprained left wrist that has all but robbed Guerrero of his power.

Guerrero, who missed 17 games after suffering the injury on Sept. 7, has had exactly two extra-base hits--a double and home run--and six RBIs in the 13 games since he returned.

And even though Mike Marshall had a monstrous last five weeks--11 home runs and 39 RBIs in September-October, a one-month total exceeded in L.A. Dodger history only by Frank Howard (41 in August, 1962)--the Dodgers probably cannot afford the absence of Guerrero's elephant gun against the Cardinal conejos , whose 314 stolen bases put them on Fleet Street this season.

"Pete says it's not any worse," said Dodger trainer Bill Buhler, "but it's not any better, either."

The bowling-glove idea was Buhler's, who originally suggested it when Manny Mota was still playing for the Dodgers and suffered an injury similar to Guerrero's. Mota, now the Dodger batting coach, liked it so much that he wore it for the next 10 years.

"It really helped me," Mota said. "I didn't turn the wrist over. It gave me wrist control and a lot of protection."

Guerrero remained unconvinced after batting practice. "We'll have to wait and see," he said, making no promises that the glove will remain on when the games begin today--assuming, of course, that the rain that is forecast doesn't materialize and cancel things.

No one expects the Cardinals to pause for a moment before pushing the pedal to the metal. If Ella Fitzgerald isn't careful, they may even steal a few notes from the national anthem.

That's one reason the Dodger pitchers were practicing their pickoff moves during Tuesday's workout .

"Just a review," scoffed Orel Hershiser, scheduled to start Game 2 on Thursday. "Wouldn't a writer review the alphabet before he sat down to write?"

For the Dodgers to slow down the Cardinals, it won't be as simple as A-B-C. No one is more aware of that than Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia, who threw out just one of 13 Cardinal baserunners this season.

There was some thought that Steve Yeager, whose cousin Chuck was the first man to crack the sound barrier, might be nominated by Manager Tom Lasorda to try to keep the Cardinals under Mach 1. Yeager may be old (37) and ornery and creaking around the joints--he's got enough screws in his left knee to open a hardware store--but he still managed to throw out 4 of 10 Cardinals.

"Scioscia will be my catcher," said Lasorda, not willing to sacrifice Scioscia's bat (.296 average to Yeager's .207).

That, of course, made Scioscia the center of much of the media attention Tuesday. He even got a little advice from Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.

"The first time you get on base, go," Bench said to Scioscia. "As soon as it looks like the pitcher's hands drop down there, take off."

Said Scioscia, who has three stolen bases this season: "I've got to go as soon as he drops the resin bag."

The Cardinal pitcher who won't be keeping an eye on Scioscia today is left-hander John Tudor, the Halley's Comet of the '85 baseball season.

Tudor, a 31-year-old journeyman who had spent a career of winning about as many games as he lost, was 1-7 on May 29. Then he won 20 of his last 21 decisions, the only loss being a 3-0 setback to the pitcher he's facing today, left-hander Fernando Valenzuela, in one of seven wins the Dodgers had in 12 regular-season games against the Cardinals.

"He's the same pitcher, no different with the Cardinals than he was with the Pirates," said Bill Madlock, who was a teammate of Tudor's in Pittsburgh last season, when the pitcher was an ordinary 12-11.

"The difference is he has Ozzie Smith and (Tommy) Herr and Willie McGee and (Vince) Coleman to run down everything and get anything on the field.

"I think he'll tell you he's got the same sinker and changeup, but Ozzie Smith will save you a few games."

Tudor wasn't in the mood to tell the media much of anything in a pregame press conference, which traditionally features the managers and starting pitchers of both teams.

Asked to describe the evolution of his changeup, his most effective pitch, Tudor answered: "It's always been a good pitch for me. . . . If you want to know how I pitch, come out tomorrow and find out."

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