VERO BEACH, Fla. — Just whose commitment to excellence is this?
When Joe Ferguson decided to join pal Bobby Valentine as a coach for the Texas Rangers this winter, the Dodgers were without an "eye in the sky," a coach whose job it is to position the defense during games.
Leave it to Al Davis, of all people, to find them one.
There may not be many people in Los Angeles who know this, but the Raider boss fancied himself a baseball player at one time. His first coaching job, in fact, was head baseball coach at Adelphi University.
And it was Davis who recommended Don McMahon, one of his baseball-playing buddies at Brooklyn's Erasmus Hall High School, to Tom Lasorda when Davis and the Dodger manager were both dining one night in Westwood.
"Tommy walked over to Al's table and asked about me, and Al mentioned that I'd been released by Cleveland," McMahon said.
"The next day, Al told me about it at a (Raider) football game, and I got Tommy's number from Irv Kaze (the Raider publicist). That Wednesday, they called me and told me I had the job."
Davis, McMahon said, "was an average outfielder" at Erasmus Hall. McMahon was a pitcher, a reliever who broke in with the world champion Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and lasted 18 years, appearing in nine games with the San Francisco Giants in 1974 before retiring at age 44.
He has since been a pitching coach with the Giants and the Indians. The Dodgers are McMahon's 11th big-league team, although he had go-rounds twice with the Giants and Indians.
McMahon, 56, attended Erasmus Hall in the '40s with Davis. A couple of years behind them was another football man of note, Sam Rutigliano, the ex-Cleveland Browns' coach and TV commentator.
McMahon said he lost touch with Davis after high school, but renewed acquaintances when he came to Los Angeles with the Braves and Davis was a line coach at USC. They have remained close friends since, as McMahon and his wife, Darlene, moved from Ohio to Orange County in 1961.
"This is the first time in years that Don can drive to work," Darlene McMahon said.
McMahon said he will not work with the pitchers--"not when you've got Ronny (Perranoski), (Johnny) Podres, Sandy (Koufax) and (Larry) Sherry around.
"You don't want to have too many guys saying something," he said. "But if I see something from upstairs (the press box), I'll say something to them, sure."
Alejandro Pena, who worked batting practice Sunday, said his shoulder "is getting better every time. We'll see how it feels (today)."
Rick Honeycutt, who also has had shoulder trouble, was equally encouraged after throwing batting practice a second time. It's that time of year.