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All in All, a Good Day for Dodgers : Spring training: Park struggles, but Strawberry, Karros and Mondesi homer, and DeShields has two hits in 8-7 victory over Montreal Expos.

March 14, 1994|MARYANN HUDSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VERO BEACH, Fla. — There was a large group of reporters waiting for Chan Ho Park, but Park wasn't in a rush. In the training room, his day on the mound complete, Park was teaching 9-year-old Quinton Hershiser how to speak Korean.

"It was like Korean class," Quinton said. "He taught me to say, 'I love baseball.' "

On a sunny, breezy day at Holman Stadium Sunday, the Dodgers had a reason to love baseball again. Besides Park, who still showed promise despite a labored effort, the Dodgers got a glimpse during an 8-7 victory over the Montreal Expos of what they hope will carry them through the season:

--Darryl Strawberry hit his first home run of the spring, a towering two-run shot to center field that traveled about 435 feet. It not only cleared the fence, but a 20-foot high screen, tying the score at 6-6 in the seventh inning.

"How does it feel? I don't know how it feels, really," Strawberry said. "I am just pleased that I am making progress."

--Delino DeShields, protective mask and all, played in his first game as a Dodger--his first at-bat coming against the pitcher he was traded for, Pedro Martinez. He went two for four, stole two bases with headfirst slides into second base, and scored a run.

He turned his first double play with Jose Offerman and fielded smoothly throughout his six innings. "Nobody has really seen me play here and I wanted to show them that I can play," DeShields said. "But that's how I play all the time. Good first impression, right?"

--Eric Karros followed Strawberry with an opposite-field homer to put the Dodgers ahead to stay.

--Tim Wallach got two hits and Raul Mondesi hit a two-run homer.

--Darren Dreifort pitched two innings, sailing through the eighth before faltering badly in the ninth. But with two outs and the Dodgers ahead by one run, he managed to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam.

It was the first time this spring the Dodgers had fielded what will probably be their opening-day lineup of regulars.

"We have the idea now, and we have the chemistry," Strawberry said. "Our chemistry was unbalanced in the past, we went our separate ways--the blacks went one way, the whites another and the Dominicans another. Now, we are always together."

Park took the mound knowing that the head of National League umpires, Ed Vargo, was watching to see if the hesitation motions he uses in his delivery were legal. Park awoke knowing that the game would not only be televised in Los Angeles, but also in Korea, which made him nervous.

Then during the game, Park thought he saw Mike Piazza signal a pickoff throw to first, and the ball sailed wildly past an empty base, scoring a run. At one point, when Park saw how Expo Darren Fletcher was holding the bat and how he stood in the box, he turned toward Strawberry in left field and waved at him to play in closer. "I have been in the league 12 years, and I have never had a pitcher tell me to come in," Strawberry said. "I just laughed." Fletcher singled into the left-field corner.

When Park came to bat, he bowed to the home plate umpire. Then against Larry Walker in the second inning, Park shook off Mike Piazza's sign for a fastball and threw a slider. "I thought maybe he knew something I didn't," Piazza said.

Walker hit a home run.

"I learned today that I need to follow the lead of people who have been here longer, that experience is the most important," said Park, who in four innings walked four and gave up five hits and three runs, two earned. "I kind of felt that I should do very well in this game. I kind of felt that maybe if it wouldn't have been televised, I might have done better."

Piazza says Park is trying too hard and needs to relax. "We are getting to know each other and he's asking me things, but once they figure out what his role is, then I definitely will take a crash course in Korean," Piazza said.

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