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Dodgers' Deal Puts Sax on Spot

September 22, 1987|SAM McMANIS | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — The Dodger clubhouse hasn't had this much life--not counting recent pugilistic efforts, of course--for months. But it had nothing to do with Monday night's game against the San Francisco Giants, their long-time rivals. First, Dodger players were enthused about Monday's ruling by an arbitrator that baseball's owners acted in concert to stifle free agency during the winter of 1985. There also were some subtle references to the Dodgers' lack of interest in free agent Tim Raines last winter.

Then, word spread that the Dodgers would announce a trade about an hour before the game, making more than a few players quite nervous about their futures.

The Dodgers, it turned out, traded Class-A pitcher Juan Guzman to Toronto for Triple-A infielder Mike Sharperson, who began the season as the Blue Jays' starting second baseman. Sharperson is expected to join the Dodgers tonight and might start at third base.

In Monday night's game, pinch-hitter Danny Heep hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a 4-2 victory before 22,522 at Candlestick Park.

It appeared the Giants would get out of the inning unscathed on a double play ground ball to first by Ken Landreaux. Giant first baseman Will Clark stepped on first to put out Landreaux, then threw to shortstop Jose Uribe, who only had to tag Mike Ramsey sliding into second.

But Uribe, apparently unaware that Clark had stepped on first, did not tag Ramsey. He stepped on second, then threw to first, and Ramsey was safe at second. One batter later, Heep broke an 0-for-11 slump with a double to center.

Tim Leary pitched a scoreless ninth to assure Bob Welch's 13th victory.

As a result of Monday's trade, the only Dodger immediately wondering about his future is second baseman Steve Sax. All indications are that the Dodgers will give Sharperson a chance to displace Sax in spring training, if Sax isn't traded during the off-season.

Monday night, Sax responded to Sharperson's acquisition by singling off Atlee Hammaker in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to 16 games.

"I want to play where I'm playing now," said Sax, who also has been rumored as heading for the outfield next season. "I've made a lot of improvement (at second base) and I just want to keep playing there."

Said Dodger Vice President Fred Claire, when asked about what effect Sharperson's acquisition will have on Sax: "Competition is certainly the name of the game. Certainly, we now have more depth in our infield. The months ahead will tell us a lot in terms of the makeup of our team. My concern is to supply as much strength and depth as I can to the team."

Sharperson, who will be 26 on Oct. 4, started at second base for the Blue Jays for the first month of the season--hitting .208--before being demoted to Triple-A ball in Syracuse. Sharperson started 75 games at third base and 9 at second in the minors, hitting .299 with 5 home runs and 26 runs batted in.

Sharperson was selected among the top 10 International League prospects by the league's managers in 1985 and '86.

Guzman, 20, had a 5-6 record and 4.75 earned-run average at Bakersfield.

"All our reports are that (Sharperson is) a good, smooth fielder, and we're in dire need of fielding, as you well know," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said. "We have a few games to see what he can do before spring training, so he won't come in cold then."

Before Monday's trade changed the clubhouse conversation, Dodger players discussed the collusion ruling and its possible ramifications.

"All we want is everyone to play by the rules," said Dodger pitcher Orel Hershiser, who represents the Dodgers on the players' association pension committee. "With any other major corporation that is under anti-trust laws, the directors would be going to jail over something like this. But baseball isn't under anti-trust rules."

Said Dave Anderson, Dodger player representative: "As far as the immediate impact, I think it will help our 1986 (collusion) case. Depending on what the remedies are, it could eventually change a lot of things."

Although Dodger players know that this or any ruling will not change the Dodgers' decision last winter not to pursue Raines, it didn't prevent them from talking about what might have been.

"Mr. (Peter) O'Malley (the Dodger owner) is going to say that Tim Raines wouldn't have put us in the World Series," catcher Mike Scioscia said. "But we think he certainly would have improved our team a lot.

"I can see Mr. O'Malley's side, and hopefully he can see our side down on the field. (Raines) was a guy who could have really helped us in the clubhouse."

O'Malley issued this statement: "Obviously, we do not agree with the conclusions of the arbitrator and it is difficult to comment further until we receive the contents of his decision."

On the field Monday, the Giants' early lead on Mike Aldrete's two-run home run in the first inning lasted six innings.

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