Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

THE INSIDE TRACK | NOTES ON A SCORECARD / ALLAN MALAMUD

Valdes May Be Only 22 but He's a Mature Pitcher

May 21, 1996|Allan Malamud

It's hard to believe that Ismael Valdes is only 22. . . .

He displays the savvy of a veteran on and off the field. . . .

Early in his second full season with the Dodgers, he has the lowest earned-run average, 2.34, of any starting pitcher on the second-ranked staff in baseball. . . .

He has a 4-2 record that would be even better if the Los Angeles bats hadn't been so quiet until recently. . . .

His strikeouts-to-walks ratio is nearly six to one. . . .

His manager, Tom Lasorda, is putting him in the same sentence with Greg Maddux. . . .

"Valdes has great mechanics, good control, tremendous self-confidence, and a command of all his pitches," Lasorda said. "He has better breaking stuff than Maddux right now and throws harder, but, of course, Maddux is a guy who could pitch a ball into a teacup." . . .

"It is an honor to hear that compliment," Valdes, known as "the Rocket," said about the comparisons to the only pitcher to have won the Cy Young Award four consecutive times. . . .

After a few classes at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., the native of Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico, communicated in English better than his friend and idol, Fernando Valenzuela, did after several years in L.A. . . .

Valdes, who is easily understood and does not require a translator, says he is learning a new word every day. . . .

His sign language isn't bad, either. . . .

His dugout sessions with Hideo Nomo of Japan have been well documented. . . .

They haven't been spotted together as much this season as last, but Valdes says that "Nomo is still explaining a lot of things about pitching to me." . . .

Valdes is among the reasons the Dodger staff is putting up terrific numbers in a year when Atlanta is the only other team in the majors that can expect a well-pitched game. . . .

Before Monday night's game against the New York Mets, the Dodgers' ERA was 2.89. Over a complete season, that would be their lowest since 2.78 in 1972. . . .

Still on the subject of control artists, Lasorda said he once saw Satchel Paige use a postage stamp for home plate during a St. Louis Browns' spring training workout at San Bernardino. . . .

The Dodgers lost on Sunday, but Nomo won. . . .

That is Nomo, the 3-year-old colt, who broke his maiden in the fourth race at Hollywood Park. In the winner's circle, jockey Brice Blanc wore a baseball cap with No. 16 on it. . . .

The Pat Day-Wayne Lukas scenario in the Preakness brought back memories of the Hollywood Gold Cup in 1973 when owner Mary Bradley replaced Bill Shoemaker with Laffit Pincay aboard favored Cougar II. Shoe won the race on Kennedy Road. . . .

USC, which has won a record 11 College World Series championships, didn't land a player on the 50th anniversary, all-CWS team. However, Rod Dedeaux was elected coach. Mark Kotsay of Cal State Fullerton joined Barry Bonds of Arizona State and Dave Winfield of Minnesota in the outfield. . . .

Texas Tale: Woody Austin and John Huston, pronounced the same as Houston, were paired in the final round of the Colonial golf tournament at Fort Worth, Texas. . . .

The UCLA women's golf team is among the favorites in the NCAA tournament Wednesday through Saturday at La Quinta in Palm Desert. . . .

More than 70 past and present Olympians will be honored at Planet Hollywood in Costa Mesa on Thursday night during a "Share the Spirit" rally. . . .

A spectator at the Pacific 10 Conference track and field meet at Drake Stadium over the weekend was the winner of the 1957 Big Eight high jump title at 6-feet 6-inches for Kansas, Wilt Chamberlain. . . .

Double threat: Roy Jones Jr. will play guard for the Jacksonville Barracudas in a pro basketball game the afternoon of June 15 at Jacksonville, Fla., and defend his International Boxing Federation title that night in the same city against Eric Lucas. . . .

Maybe it shouldn't have come as a surprise that the Chicago Bulls toyed with the Orlando Magic in the opening game of their series at Chicago. The Magic was a mere 23-18 on the road during the regular season. . . .

I hope the Clippers don't pick a high school player. They've had enough of them. . . .

Starting in the third row of the Indianapolis 500 will be Michel Jourdain Jr. of Mexico. I wonder if they will call him Air Jourdain or Road Jourdain. . . .

During a visit to Cincinnati, Tom Lasorda said Reds' owner Marge Schott complained to him about her scouts. "What's wrong?" Lasorda asked. "They're watching too many games," Schott said.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|