DENVER — Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda, his voice shaky, said Friday from his hospital bed that he hopes to return to his job Thursday when the club returns home to Dodger Stadium.
"That's what I'm shooting for," said Lasorda, who has been hospitalized since Monday because of a minor heart attack and ulcer. "If the doctors let me, that's the day I plan to be back."
Lasorda, 68, said he has no plans to retire, and wouldn't even consider the possibility unless doctors recommend that his condition precludes him from returning.
"I just want to get back to the team," Lasorda said. "I need to get this team going again and battling again.
"God almighty, I felt so sorry for the guys last night [during their 13-1 defeat Thursday]. They had to travel all night, got to bed at 5 in the morning, and I saw the way it affected them.
"It's been very tough and very difficult to watch this. You sit here helpless. There's nothing you can do.
"I want to walk up and down, wanting to motivate them, give them spirit, but I can't even get out of bed. I've been out of bed only once."
Lasorda, who said he expects to be released Sunday or Monday, said he fully expects to manage the remainder of the season upon his return. He said he might have to pass up the July 9 All-Star Game in Philadelphia, where he was scheduled to be on Bobby Cox's coaching staff, but, despite the swirling rumors, he cannot imagine sitting out the rest of the season.
Charlie Dressen had a heart attack in the spring of 1965, and came back to manage the remainder of the year for the Detroit Tigers. Birdie Tebbetts had a heart attack April 1, 1964, but still managed the second half of the season for the Cleveland Indians. Danny Murtaugh had a heart attack in 1964 while managing the Pittsburgh Pirates, and returned for three more managerial stints.
"I belong back on the field," Lasorda said. "I need to be with my team."
If anything, Lasorda said, he should be in better physical condition. The blockage in his artery has been cleared. And the ulcer is being treated.
"I feel no pain whatsoever," Lasorda said, "I'm just doing everything I can to take care of this ulcer. I had no idea I even had the [heart attack], or when it could have happened. They were treating me for the ulcer, but when I told them a couple of times that I had broken out in a sweat, they said, 'Wait a minute. Let's check everything out.'
"Thank God they did."
Said Jo Lasorda, Tom's wife: "Without that ulcer, no one would have ever known. The doctors really can't pinpoint a time when he had the heart attack. It could have happened in Chicago [June 17-19]. That's when he wasn't feeling good.
"But he wasn't hospitalized because of a heart attack, trust me. The heart is fixed and fine now. We just got to take care of his ulcer now."
Lasorda said that he has been overwhelmed with telephone calls, flowers and letters. He has heard from everyone from Frank Sinatra to NBA coaches Larry Brown and Mike Fratello, who telephoned Friday from Greece.
"You can't believe all of the love and support I've received," Lasorda said. "I've never seen anything like it. Everybody's so concerned with me, I don't know what to say.
"Maybe it takes something like this to realize how many people love you."