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Lasorda Will Stay Out for Indefinite Period

July 02, 1996|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Walking slowly and speaking in a noticeably softer voice but otherwise looking fit, Tom Lasorda checked out of the hospital Monday afternoon.

One of his doctors, Michael Mellman, was careful at a news conference not to leave anyone with an idea when Lasorda--who underwent angioplasty June 26 after suffering a heart attack--could return to manage the Dodgers. Mellman indicated it could be weeks, not the one week Lasorda had desired.

"There are milestones with Tommy that he has to reach. . . . We'll make a judgment over the next couple of weeks when he'll return," Mellman said at Centinela Hospital Medical Center.

Does that mean weeks, not one week?

"We're looking for evidence of healing. . . . We're going to be careful not to mention any definite dates," he said.

Before Mellman answered, Lasorda quipped, with a wink: "Hey, it could be two days."

Mellman: "See what we have to deal with?"

Lasorda, speaking softly, indicated he didn't want to return to the dugout prematurely.

"I don't want to go back until I'm ready," he said.

"I don't want to sit in the corner of the dugout and not be able to scream and yell."

Lasorda, wearing a blue-and-white checked sport shirt and yellow slacks, began the 15-minute news conference by introducing his 8-month-old granddaughter, Emily.

"Can I have Emily?" he asked. "I want to see how she handles her first news conference."

For a few minutes, he held Emily as he talked, before she was reclaimed by a family member.

Lasorda indicated the worst part of his nine-day hospitalization was listening to the Dodger-Colorado Rocky series from Denver. The Dodgers scored 33 runs in the series, got 53 hits and lost three of four games.

"After those four games, I nearly asked for another bed in my room . . . for Billy Russell," Lasorda said of the Dodger interim manager.

Mellman said Lasorda had suffered a heart attack "at least within a couple of days" before his June 24 hospitalization.

Lasorda, 68, who was also found to have an ulcer, said he was shocked to learn he had had a heart attack.

He complained to his wife, Jo, Sunday night of abdominal pain during a charity dinner at the Century Plaza hotel. Mellman was called that night and he ordered Lasorda to Centinela the next morning.

"I never had any idea I'd had a heart attack; I hadn't had any chest or neck pain," Lasorda said.

"When I told Dr. Mellman [Monday morning] I'd broken out in a sweat a couple of times, he started checking on my heart.

"I was shocked. I never would have believed it. I have an Italian heart. . . . What could happen?"

Lasorda thanked those who have sent cards, flowers and letters "from all over the world."

Then he walked outside to his waiting car, shook hands with some small boys and hospital security guards, and a family member drove him home.

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