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THE INSIDE TRACK | NOTES ON A SCORECARD / ALLAN MALAMUD

If Dodgers Start Hitting, That Would Be a Switch

May 23, 1996|ALLAN MALAMUD

When Reggie Smith was playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, he once asked Stan Musial how he used to break out of a slump. . . .

"I didn't get into one," said Musial, the Hall of Famer with the .331 lifetime batting average. . . .

Smith is now hitting coach for the Dodgers, the mere mortals who have been in a slump for much of the season. . . .

"Things have been going better lately," Smith said. "I'm sleeping more these nights. We're starting to see just how well this team can hit. There are five guys in our lineup with power, ones who can change a game with one swing. We should be scoring five runs a game." . . .

Smith, who was one of the great switch-hitters in the game during a 17-year career that ended in 1982, arrives at the ballpark at 1:30 or 2 every afternoon. . . .

"I study quite a bit of video," he said. "We tape swings from all angles, in front of a batter, behind him and to the side." . . .

The Dodger bats began to emerge from their slumber one night last week when Manager Tom Lasorda called off batting practice. . . .

"There had been a lot of tension, everyone was so focused on their work," Smith said. "That first day of no B.P., the players were able to relax. They had a chance to absorb what we had been teaching them." . . .

Smith has a new look too. . . .

He is wearing a helmet while coaching in the first base box. . . .

After watching coaches dodge hard-hit foul balls for years and sometimes get hit by them, Dodger announcer Vin Scully has campaigned for such added protection. . . .

What has brought Smith the most pleasure recently, though, is seeing the Dodgers' hardest-hit balls go fair and over the wall.

*

Those waiting for the Southern California matchups that could decide the National League West title, the Dodgers vs. San Diego, will have to wait more than a month longer. . . .

The first series between them doesn't start until July 1 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. . . .

Every time a pitcher, such as Dwight Gooden, tries to equal Johnny Vander Meer's two consecutive no-hitters, I'm reminded that it is probably the toughest record in the book to break. . . .

The Korean Olympic baseball team, one of the favorites for the gold medal at Atlanta, has been training in Southern California and beaten the Long Beach Riptide, USC and UCLA in exhibition games. . . .

Telephone callers to Yankee Stadium are greeted by a recording of Phil Rizzuto. . . .

At this pace, the Detroit Tigers won't come close to the 62 wins posted by the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL regular season. In fact, the Tigers might not even reach the 46 won by the Detroit Pistons. . . .

Only the Tigers' earned-run average could stay the same, 7.35, after a 7-1 loss to Kansas City on Tuesday. . . .

Against Patrick Roy, the Red Wings are starting to feel like the 1993 Kings. . . .

The Colorado Avalanche is playing terrific hockey, but something should be done about those hideous road uniforms. . . .

ESPN is relying on artsy-craftsy, behind-the-net camera shots too often during power plays. . . .

Former King defenseman Mark Hardy is coach of the roller hockey L.A. Blades, who are training at the Forum and will open their home season there against the Anaheim Bullfrogs on June 11. . . .

It's shaping up as No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the Hollywood Gold Cup on June 30. Cigar is ranked first in the National Thoroughbred Poll for the 43rd consecutive week and Soul Of The Matter is second. . . .

Best grass race of the year so far should be the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Handicap on Sunday that features Northern Spur, the 1995 turf champion, and Labeeb, winner of the Hollywood Derby. . . .

Laura Davies, who will compete in the LPGA Skins Game this weekend on ABC, says, "People think that all I can do is drive the ball long, but my short game is probably the best part of my game. It's probably the same with John Daly. I used to think he just slugged the ball and chased it, but when I got to play with him in the Australian Skins Game, I learned that he had a great short game." . . .

In their 93-88 victory over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, the Chicago Bulls got a total of two points from the center position. . . .

The NFL should have voted to use a modified form of instant replay this year in all postseason games, not 10 preseason games.

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