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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : DODGERS : Hard-Hit Martinez Says He Will Be Ready

March 15, 1994|MARYANN HUDSON

Ramon Martinez has spent the spring working on his pitching mechanics, but whatever he's doing, it isn't working. On Monday against the Florida Marlins at Melbourne, Fla., Martinez gave up eight runs on seven hits, including two home runs, in only four innings. His spring earned-run average swelled from 9.00 to 12.27. The Dodgers lost, 9-1.

"I have three or four more starts this spring, and I'll be fine when the season starts," Martinez said.

Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president, said he is not worried about Martinez or any of the other veterans who are spending the spring getting into shape.

"Ramon threw with good velocity today, but not good location," Claire said. "I would be concerned if there was a physical problem, but as good as he threw last year, it's a matter of him throwing between starts and dealing with his technique."

Although the Dodgers' five starting pitchers were durable last season--none missed a start--they were not consistently effective. The entire pitching staff had the third-lowest ERA in the league, but Pedro Astacio was the only starter with a winning record, 14-9. Tom Candiotti pitched much better than his 8-10 record showed, but suffered from low-run production.

"You want to see someone step up and take the lead," Claire said. "In order to have a big-time season, you have to have a big-time performance."

Orel Hershiser said he is starting to throw his fastball for the first time in two seasons. And Kevin Gross, who is recovering from tendinitis in his right shoulder, will make his spring debut Sunday. Both Claire and Manager Tom Lasorda said that if Gross is not ready, there are others in the organization who can step in. Claire mentioned Chan Ho Park and Greg Hansell, but neither appears ready at this point.

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So far, there are no standouts among the six left-handed relievers, Lasorda said. The Dodgers need an effective lefty in the bullpen, is a something the Dodger need, but Lasorda said he's not sure if the club will carry one.

"We will have to make a decision," whether to carry a left-hander or not," Lasorda said. "If we have a right-hander who is pitching better than a left-hander, do we take the left-hander? We are not just going to bring him along because he's left-handed."

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Claire said he agrees with Ed Vargo, the director of National League umpires, that Park is not violating any rules with his hesitation moves on the mound.

"I don't see anything he is doing that is wrong and it's not even a penalty," Claire said.

Vargo said he would probably take the issue to the rules committee, but unless an interpretation is rendered, it is sure to cause problems when Park pitches. Veteran umpires who have seen Park pitch say he is in clear violation. Park will pitch again on Thursday against the New York Mets, who raised the issue. Met batters called time three times while in the box the first time Park pitched.

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Mike Piazza's home run in the fourth inning against pitcher Mike Gardner cleared the right-field scoreboard, a $90,000 apparatus that explodes when a Marlin hits a home run. Piazza has hit all four of his home runs this spring against the Marlins. . . . Carlos Hernandez, who had arthroscopic surgery in his right shoulder during the winter, made his spring debut Monday. Lasorda said Hernandez should be ready to back up Piazza when the season starts, but if he isn't, Tom Prince might be. Prince, 29, who played in the Pittsburgh organization the last 10 seasons, is batting .455 in 11 at-bats and has impressed the club with his throwing accuracy.

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