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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : Lefty Eischen Has Right Stuff

March 13, 1996|BOB NIGHTENGALE

The last time the Dodgers started a left-hander in a regular-season game was Sept. 24, 1992, when Bob Ojeda took the mound. The Dodgers have since played 429 games, 24 shy of the major league record without starting a left-hander.

Joey Eischen would love to be the one to break the streak.

He was good enough during his four innings of a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Expos on Tuesday at West Palm Beach, Fla., to warrant at least another start in his bid to become the Dodgers' fifth starter.

The job still is Pedro Astacio's to lose, but if he slips, the Dodgers say they would not hesitate to give it to Eischen.

"He can pitch in this league, no doubt about it," said Mike Piazza, who hit a 450-foot home run. "Today, he showed me a lot more versatility."

Eischen, a West Covina High graduate, will either pitch for the Dodgers this season or will be pitching in another organization. He has no options left so the Dodgers cannot send him to the minors without his clearing waivers, which won't happen, said Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president.

"I'm going to end up pitching for somebody, but pitching here is the perfect scenario for me," Eischen said.

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Left-handed reliever John Cummings pitched two hitless innings and has given up only one run in seven innings this spring. But considering that the Dodgers are expected to keep Todd Worrell, Darren Hall, Mark Guthrie, Scott Radinsky and Eischen and/or Astacio, in their bullpen, Cummings could be the odd man out.

Cummings also has a split contract, which enables the Dodgers to pitch him at triple-A Albuquerque without paying the major league minimum salary.

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Left fielder Billy Ashley appears to have played himself out of the Dodgers' plans and perhaps onto the trading block. Ashley is batting .056 this spring with one hit in 18 at-bats and nine strikeouts. He struck out twice in the morning B game, and has now struck out 14 times in 26 at-bats in combined A games and B games. . . . Dodger fans who have a ticket stub from the 2,000th game on May 26, 1983 may exchange it for one free ticket to the 3,000th game on opening day April 8 against the Atlanta Braves. All ticket stubs must be mailed to "3,000th Game," Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, Calif., 90012 by March 31.

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