ST. LOUIS — After a mini-vacation in Montreal ordered by amateur shrink Tom Lasorda, Tom Niedenfuer has found work refreshing again.
"Things are starting to take a turn," said the Dodger reliever, who hasn't been seen in Busch Stadium since Ozzie Smith's shocking home run in last fall's National League playoffs, but will be back in the bullpen when the Dodgers open a two-game series with the Cardinals tonight.
"I'm starting to make better pitches."
Niedenfuer wasn't allowed to make any pitches at all Friday, when Lasorda told him not to show up at Olympic Stadium.
"I'd thrown a lot," Niedenfuer said. "Tommy told me that if I came to the ballpark, he'd be tempted to use me. I think it was good for both of us."
Niedenfuer didn't get away from baseball entirely. "I walked around for a while, then I came back to the hotel and listened to the end of the game (an 8-4 Dodger loss)."
Sunday, Niedenfuer pitched one scoreless inning in the Dodgers' 4-3 loss to the Montreal Expos, and kept the ball in the infield.
"The last four games haven't really been that bad," Niedenfuer said. "The one game in Chicago, I made three pitches (the first two were balls, the third Leon Durham hit for a game-winning home run).
"The next game I did well, and the third, I bounced a slider. That can happen to anybody."
The Dodgers worked out in Busch Stadium for a couple of hours Monday, and with the exception of three players committed to take part in a charity golf tournament--Enos Cabell, Ed Vande Berg and Carlos Diaz--everyone showed up. . . . The Dodgers are 14-19; after 33 games last season, they were 17-16, in third place, 2 1/2 games behind the San Diego Padres. . . . Rookie Reggie Williams has hit in seven straight games. Slumping Dodgers include Dave Anderson, 1 for his last 12; Greg Brock, 5 for 34; Mike Marshall, 2 for 18, and Cesar Cedeno, 4 for 33. Cedeno has three runs batted in in 48 at-bats and hasn't driven in a run since his bloop triple April 29.
Dodger batting averages with runners in scoring position: Marshall 10 for 31, .323; Bill Madlock 3 for 10, .300; Cabell 3 for 11, .273; Anderson 5 for 19, .263; Steve Sax 5 for 21, .238; Williams 2 for 9, .222; Mariano Duncan 5 for 23, .217; Brock 6 for 28, .214; Mike Scioscia 3 for 15, .200; Ken Landreaux and Franklin Stubbs, 4 for 21, .190; Bill Russell 1 for 8, .125; Cedeno 1 for 9, .111; Terry Whitfield, 0 for 4, .000; and Alex Trevino 0 for 6, .000.