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Dodgers' 'Doggie' Has His Day at Third Base

June 16, 1986|TOM FRIEND | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — The Dodgers had an errorless game Sunday, and the best fielder of all was third baseman Bill Madlock, who was absolutely fearless. Line drives were scalded at him from head to toe, and he caught every one. He even caught one hit over his head. And also one near shortstop Mariano Duncan's toes.

He was moving.

By the eighth inning, though, Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda tapped Dave Anderson on the shoulder and told him to get in there for Madlock.

Anderson, later, said: "How could they take him out and put me in as a defensive replacement? After that?!"

But Madlock--self-admittedly--is sometimes a little bit over his head at third base. He's got a little belly on him, and he's got some aches and pains (a strained muscle in his hip has bothered him), and he keeps having birthdays.

He's 35.

And he's got all those errors this year (12 total), the most by a National League third baseman. Bob Uecker might not mind that stat, but Bill Madlock does.

So when a caravan of reporters came to him after Sunday's 6-0 Dodger victory--all of them wanting to know how he didn't err--he was only human.

He told them to leave.

"I really have nothing to say," he said. "OK? I really don't."

Prodded a bit, he did talk. Few people have games as good as this and don't elaborate.

Line Drive No. 1--It came in the first. With Kevin McReynolds standing on second with two outs, Steve Garvey got around early on a Rick Honeycutt cut fastball and ripped it.

Right at Madlock's chest.

He caught it.

Line Drive No. 2--This one, in the second, was smashed by Padre catcher Bruce Bochy. Madlock dove to his left, never saw the ball, stuck his glove out and found it.

Pure luck.

"Really, I didn't see it," he said.

Line Drive No. 3--It came off the bat of Bip Roberts, and this is the one that got kind of near Duncan's toe. Madlock moved quickly to his left, dove and snagged it. This one, he said, he saw.

Line Drive No. 4--It was his best. With Tony Gwynn on first with two outs and no score, McReynolds slammed one of Honeycutt's pitches--this time about three to five feet over Madlock's head--and it was going faster than a Dwight Gooden fastball, for sure.

Madlock jumped and snagged it in the webbing of his glove.

Honeycutt: "I didn't know he could jump that high."

McReynolds stood waiting for an elevator after the game, and someone commented how Madlock had gotten up to the third floor--figuratively--to rob him.

"He surprised me on all those balls," McReynolds said.

Line Drive No. 5--Last, but not least, this one was grounded by Carmelo Martinez in the sixth. Madlock, on a roll, backhanded the rolling ball and threw him out at first.

In summary, Madlock explained this madness by saying that Honeycutt throws a cut fastball, which is a little slower than a normal fastball and, consequently, he was ready for many balls his way.

"I'm on my toes," he said. "Or I know I'll get the bleep knocked out of me down there. As simple as that."

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