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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : DODGERS

Wallach Is Just Happy to Be Here

August 24, 1996|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Third baseman Tim Wallach enters the Dodger clubhouse each day, puts on his uniform, walks onto the field and still has difficulty believing this is all happening. A month ago, he was sitting on the bench for the Angels in a season gone awry. Today, he is a key factor in the Dodgers' pennant stretch.

"It couldn't have worked out better; it's easy to come to the ballpark now," Wallach said, grinning. "I wouldn't want to sit the last two months and not be part of the pennant race. I wouldn't have even come back if not for this situation."

Wallach, who will retire at the season's conclusion, realizes this will be his final opportunity at playing in a World Series. He helped drive the Dodgers to the playoffs a year ago, and now he steps in familiar territory. Why, when Brett Butler returns to the team Tuesday and is activated after Sept. 1, it will almost seem like old times.

"I've talked to Brett," Wallach said, "but I haven't been able to be part of what's happened to Brett and seen what he's going through. It's going to be great to have him be a part of this."

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Ralph Avila, Dodger vice president, had successful triple-bypass surgery Friday at Centinela Medical Center. Avila, who's in charge of the Dodgers' year-round training facilities and scouting operations in the Dominican Republic, is expected to remain in intensive care until early next week.

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Third baseman Mike Blowers, whose season-ending knee surgery last month opened the door for Wallach's return, said he's optimistic that he'll be ready by the start of spring training. Blowers lifted weights with his knee for the first time Friday, has begun riding a bicycle, and has walked for the last five days without the aid of crutches.

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Center fielder Chad Curtis was benched for the third consecutive game in place of Wayne Kirby, Manager Bill Russell said, because of Kirby's hot streak [three for eight in the last two games]. The move paid off when Kirby hit a key double in the fifth inning that set up four runs. . . . Burt Hooton, pitching coach for the Dodgers' triple-A Albuquerque team, has accepted an offer to become pitching coach at the University of Texas under new Coach Augie Garrido. . . . The Dodgers have moved the starting time of their Sept. 7 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates from 7 to 7:30 p.m. to honor Tom Lasorda.

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