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DODGERS

BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : Lasorda Ready for a Challenge

February 16, 1996|BOB NIGHTENGALE

The Dodgers' opening day of spring training at Vero Beach, Fla., was just like old times.

"It's a lot different from last year because we don't have any problems," Manager Tom Lasorda said. "We don't ever want to go through that again. We've got nothing but happy guys in here.

"When everyone gets here, I'll talk to them and issue a challenge. "I'll ask them, 'How badly do they want to be world champions.' "

The focus of attention was starter Hideo Nomo, who came into camp a year ago as a virtual unknown and left the season as a cult hero.

Nomo has become the Michael Jordan of Japan, earning nearly $10 million in endorsements and advertisements. Simply by being Nomo's catcher, Mike Piazza earned about $2 million by endorsing a brand of underwear and industrial machinery.

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Closer Todd Worrell was a no-show the first day of camp, along with pitchers Ramon Martinez, Pedro Astacio and Ismael Valdes.

"Tell everybody not to panic, I'll be there," Worrell said. "I'm sure everyone is asking, 'Where's Worrell?' but I'll be there [Monday]. I've been working out since mid-December, so I'm ready to go."

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The Dodgers signed outfielder Billy Ashley to a one-year, $195,000 contract. They also signed outfielders Todd Hollandsworth and Karim Garcia, infielders Mike Busch and Garey Ingram and left-handed pitcher Jesus Martinez to one-year contracts.

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