VERO BEACH, Fla. — The education of Jose Gonzalez, the Dodgers' supposed rookie phenomenon the last two springs, continues daily here at Dodgertown.
Lesson for Wednesday: Base running.
Gonzalez, the center fielder whom Dodger Vice President Al Campanis has touted as a future star, has not been much of a base-stealer despite his speed, which is said to be the best in the organization.
So, Manager Tom Lasorda put Gonzalez on first base at the start of every inning in the Dodgers' simulated game Wednesday morning and the six-inning intrasquad game in the afternoon.
The results were not encouraging.
In the simulated game, Gonzalez was picked off first base twice, caught stealing at second twice and doubled off first base on a line drive to right field. Then, in the intra-squad game, Gonzalez was picked off first base in the first inning and was caught stealing in both the second and third innings.
After that, the coaches gave him the rest of the day off.
Gonzalez, who stole just 11 bases in 89 games in Triple-A ball at Albuquerque last season, was not really discouraged with his rough day.
He was, however, tired.
"I'm very tired," he said. "That's a lot of sprinting for me. I'm just learning how to read the pitchers. I still have to work at that and getting a good jump. Sometimes, I get a bad jump and I still keep going.
"You've got to be aggressive on the bases. You've got to get a good lead."
Dodger Coach Joe Amalfitano said the idea was to work on all aspects of base-stealing mechanics. "A guy like (Gonzalez), who has such great speed, should really study how to steal bases," Amalfitano said. "He has too much doubt and hesitation. He was unable to read the pitchers. The other thing is, he slows down to slide. I guess he's always done that.
"He should be able to steal more bases than he does. My opinion, right now, is that he doesn't understand the mechanics of how to steal. It's not that he hasn't been told before. Those guys in the minors have taught him that. It just hasn't taken yet."
Most likely, Gonzalez will continue to work on base-stealing until it does take.
The rumors that the Dodgers are considering trading pitcher Alejandro Pena to the Cleveland Indians for center fielder Brett Butler have surfaced again. This time, a national cable network reported that a trade involving those players is in the works. But Dodger Vice President Al Campanis said the story is "erroneous." However, Campanis said he has talked to the Indians this spring about Butler. He said those discussions were strictly general, but he's leaving his options open. "I talked to them just to touch base," Campanis said Wednesday. "My feeling is they want to keep Butler. You know, he lost his arbitration case (and will make $765,000). So, that's more attractive to them. But we haven't closed our ears to listening about trades for center fielders or about Pena. But we still think (Pena) has a chance to be one of our 10 pitchers." Campanis said he will not consider any trade until after spring training games are under way, so that he could scout prospective players. . . . Pena was scheduled to pitch in Wednesday's intra-squad game, but he didn't. Trainer Bill Buhler said there is nothing physically wrong with Pena, who is still trying to recover from shoulder surgery he had in 1985. . . . The Dodger pitcher most often rumored to go to Cleveland for Butler is reliever Tom Niedenfuer. In fact, a clubhouse attendant even pasted Butler's baseball card to Niedenfuer's locker. . . . Highlights from the Dodgers' six-inning intra-squad game: Center fielder Ken Landreaux shocked many observers by making a diving catch in right-center. Landreaux diving for balls in spring training has been unheard of. Landreaux also doubled. Jerry Reuss threw two hitless innings, walking one batter, and right fielder Ralph Bryant had a single and threw out a runner at home plate from deep right field. Mike Scioscia singled in two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.