ATLANTA — Even this late in a losing season, there still is some intrigue surrounding the Dodgers. Part of it has to do with the future of right fielder Mike Marshall, whose Dodger days are rumored to be numbered.
Whatever Marshall does in the final three weeks might increase his trade value, or perhaps even convince the Dodgers to keep him.
Sunday, in the Dodgers' 6-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves that gave pitcher Orel Hershiser his 15th win, Marshall had his best day at the plate since returning from his latest injury, a badly bruised left ankle.
After going 4 for 4 with 2 runs batted in, including a home run to deep center field in the sixth inning, Marshall talked about his future.
"You could look at it two ways," Marshall said. "Maybe (the Dodgers) will want to keep me after (a productive game). Or maybe somebody will want me more in a trade." Certainly, Marshall is available. His string of injuries, which have sidelined him for 55 of the Dodgers' 142 games, and disintegrating relationship with many teammates apparently has led Dodger management to shop him around. Scouts, including one from the Chicago White Sox, are again monitoring Marshall.
Marshall isn't alone, since Vice President Fred Claire has vowed that no Dodger is untouchable in off-season trade talks.
But a game such as Sunday's reminds people of Marshall's capabilities when healthy and playing every day.
Marshall improved his average to .292. He has 63 RBIs and 14 home runs in 87 games. His RBI total is second only to Pedro Guerrero's 77. Guerrero, however, has played in 135 of the 142 games.
Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda looks at Marshall's statistics and envisions what the right fielder could produce if Marshall had not succumbed to a series of injuries, the most serious being the left-ankle bruise, a wart on his left index finger and a chronic lower-back strain.
"He showed you (Sunday) what he can mean to a ball club," Lasorda said. "The guy has a ton of talent. Look at how many games he's missed and look at the number of RBIs he's got . . . "What kills me is to know that those two guys (Marshall and Guerrero) a few years ago (1985) hit (a combined) 62 home runs." Marshall has said he wants to remain with the Dodgers (60-82) and deal with the dissension that has developed in the clubhouse. He's trying not to think about the trade speculation.
"It's out of my control about the course management takes," Marshall said. "Regardless of the situation, I want to try to produce for the team I'm playing on. Sure, I guess how I play affects what the Dodgers and other people have in mind if a trade is in the works. But I can't control that. I can only control what I do on the field."
Before the Atlanta series, Marshall had struggled since coming off the disabled list Sept. 5. He had only 2 hits in 24 at-bats and left several runners in scoring position in the recent series against the Cincinnati Reds.
But Marshall made up for it against the Braves. He went 8 for 13 with 6 RBIs in the three-game series. His home run Sunday was his first since Aug. 8 against the Braves in Los Angeles. The next day, Marshall hit a foul ball off his left shin and did not play again for nearly a month.
The injuries have hurt Marshall, but so, too, have the charges of malingering that stemmed from the ailments. Again Sunday, Marshall defended himself.
"They know what I can do when I'm healthy," Marshall said. "I've had a few tough injuries, which people have questioned . . . I haven't let the problems I've had get me down. I haven't criticized anybody. I've taken the blame when I've needed to, when I didn't produce. And I stand by how I feel in the times when I haven't been able to play.
"The main thing is, it's fun to play again. It's fun to be out there."
Especially when you go 4 for 4.
Orel Hershiser improved his record to 15-13 Sunday. Hershiser's National League-leading earned-run average remained 2.71, ahead of the San Francisco Giants' Rick Reuschel, whose ERA is 2.75. Hershiser gave up two runs on six hits. Both runs were bases-empty homers to left field by Atlanta catcher Ozzie Virgil, who has 26 this season. Hershiser was removed after seven innings, and reliever Brad Havens earned his second career save by retiring the side in the eighth and ninth innings. Havens' only other save came on July 10, 1986, with the Baltimore Orioles. . . Braves rookie Pete Smith (1-1) was the losing pitcher. Smith gave up four runs in six innings.. . . In addition to Mike Marshall's four hits, Steve Sax, John Shelby and Mike Scioscia all had two hits.. . . Jim Poole, a left-hander who was a low Dodger draft pick this summer, worked out for Manager Tom Lasorda and pitching coach Ron Perranoski before Sunday's game. Poole played at Georgia Tech and was a member of the United States' Pan American Games team. Poole had a 2-1 record with a 2.61 ERA for the U.S. team.