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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : DODGERS : Chan Ho Park Has a Big Fan in Peter O'Malley

March 30, 1994|TIM KAWAKAMI

In a gathering with reporters Tuesday at Vero Beach, Fla., Dodger owner Peter O'Malley left little doubt over which player had drawn his fondest attention this spring--Korean rookie pitcher Chan Ho Park.

"He has helped make this the most exciting spring for me in many years," O'Malley said. "He's a very exciting young man.

"We obviously believe he can play with us soon at the major league level. I hope he's with the major league club on opening day. I enjoy watching him pitch."

Park, scheduled to start the Dodgers' final Grapefruit League game today, has a 2.37 earned-run average in five spring starts. O'Malley said he had not been as enthusiastic about the potential impact of a player since Fernando Valenzuela's rookie season.

"I'm reluctant to compare Chan Ho with Fernando, but, I've said this before, I think the most exciting era for me in Dodger history is Fernandomania," O'Malley said.

"I see (Park) making an impact not just in L.A., not just in America, but throughout the world. We're on the threshold here of something very, very exciting."

But O'Malley said he would leave the decision on when Park makes the major league team to his baseball people. Park currently appears set to start the season with the Dodgers as a long reliever--but possibly could open in the starting rotation.

"We will do everything possible not to rush him, not to overload him," O'Malley said. "The decision whether or not Chan Ho makes the team will be based on what's best long-term for him, not what is best for the ballclub in April or May."

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O'Malley also touched on several other topics:

--On the possibility of the Raiders playing at Dodger Stadium in 1994 if the earthquake-damaged Coliseum is not ready: "We have had no inquiries from the city, the county, the Coliseum commission or the Raiders. I would guess the Raiders will be playing at the Coliseum. By the 29th of March, we surely should have heard a call--we've received no call."

--On the future of Manager Tom Lasorda: "He's in good health and he's doing an outstanding job managing. We're not going to be making this a distraction."

--On the status of Darryl Strawberry: "He seems to be letting his actions speak for him and that's good," O'Malley said before pausing to knock on wood. "I think he's a happy camper."

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As expected, Lasorda named Orel Hershiser to start the opener Tuesday against the Florida Marlins at Dodger Stadium. Charlie Hough is slated for the Marlins. . . . General Manager Fred Claire said there are no plans to leave Kevin Gross behind for extended spring training at Vero Beach. Gross, who has an 8.00 ERA this spring, is set to start one of the games of this weekend's Freeway Series against the Angels.

The Dodgers lost their fourth consecutive game, 6-1, to the Houston Astros, at Vero Beach. Newly-acquired reliever Al Osuna arrived in camp and pitched one scoreless inning against his old team. . . . Cory Snyder, who had been sidelined most of spring with back and rib injuries and lost his right-field job to Raul Mondesi, sprained a ligament in his right knee while batting in a minor league game Monday night. Snyder has not appeared with the major league team this spring, and is listed as day to day.

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