Ismael Valdes, at 20 the youngest player in the National League, will make his first major league start tonight against the New York Mets instead of Orel Hershiser, whose status remains day to day because of a muscle strain in his left side. Tom Candiotti will pitch on three days' rest Tuesday.
Hershiser, who felt the strain while warming up before Saturday's game and did not start, was still sore Sunday when undergoing tests by Dodger trainers.
"The muscle in that area of the rib is difficult to get a good assessment of," said Pat Screnar, team therapist.
Hershiser will be evaluated in a few days. If he is put on the disabled list, Chan Ho Park is a candidate to take his place in the rotation, said Fred Claire, executive vice president. But Valdes, depending on his start today, could have the edge.
He had always been a starting pitcher until he was promoted to the Dodger bullpen from triple-A Albuquerque on June 8. Since he made his major league debut on June 15, Valdes has pitched well in 10 of 12 outings. He has a 1-0 record with a 3.14 earned-run average and only one of his five inherited runners has scored.
Delino DeShields' left thigh muscle is bothering him again, and he is scheduled to see a doctor in New York. He was scratched from the starting lineup Sunday and Manager Tom Lasorda said he is giving DeShields a couple of days off. Jeff Treadway, who has been hot offensively, replaced him in the lineup.
Dodger players had a lot to say about Fernando Valenzuela. Mitch Webster, whose home run began the Dodgers' seven-run ninth inning, said that the cut fastball that Valenzuela throws is quite an adjustment. "It comes in at at right-handed hitters, so you look in, and he throws a screwball away," Webster said. "He is really pitching well."
Brett Butler said Valenzuela's pitches look fat, but are anything but. "You want to hit Fernando so bad, the ball looks so big, it dips and doodles and he adds something on and takes something off, " Butler said. "Maybe you go out there and try to do too much."