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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : DODGERS : Saberhagen Deal Has Rockies Excited

August 03, 1995|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Bret Saberhagen has spent most of his life rooting for the Dodgers, but in the last two days, most of Colorado is relying on him to ruin the Dodgers' playoff hopes.

"I grew up in Los Angeles," said Saberhagen, who graduated from Cleveland High in Reseda in 1982, "and since they didn't draft me, I figured I'd take it out on them somehow."

Saberhagen, who has a 6-1 career record against the Dodgers, was acquired Monday night by the Rockies for two minor league pitchers. It's the most celebrated arrival for an athlete in this city since John Elway.

"This is the most excited I've ever been since I was here," Manager Don Baylor said. "Once I announced it to the players [on the team plane], I never saw anything like it. It was just euphoric."

Saberhagen, who has won two Cy Young awards and the World Series most-valuable-player award, realizes the expectations put upon him. It's as if his arrival provides an automatic playoff berth for the Rockies. A local TV station even calculated that the Rockies' magic number before Wednesday's game was 54.

"I just kind of feel overwhelmed right now," Saberhagen said. "Hopefully, I can fill the shoes that everyone has been talking about.

"There definitely is a lot of pressure. I'm expected to win. I expect myself to win. I think one thing that will calm me down is when I get on the baseball field."

*

Dodger left-handed reliever Mark Guthrie, acquired along with Kevin Tapani from the Minnesota Twins, figured that he wasn't going to be traded once he looked at his clock Monday night and saw there were only 15 minutes left before the trading deadline.

Then the phone rang.

"My wife picked up the phone, and when she didn't recognize who it was, I thought, oh-oh, this is it," Guthrie said.

It was Minnesota General Manager Terry Ryan, telling Guthrie he had been traded.

"I probably took it harder when [Rick] Aguilera and [Scott] Erickson got traded than myself," Guthrie said. "Once they got rid of those guys, it was the beginning to the end. It's probably the hardest now for the guys who are still there. It's hard to come to the park.

"At least I picked up 26 games in the standings."

*

Third baseman Tim Wallach, who didn't open the season until May 20 because of a herniated disk in his back, sat out his first game since then because of a stiff lower back.

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