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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : DODGERS

Butler's Comeback Promises Emotion

September 05, 1996|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Perhaps it is only fitting that Friday night, on the one-year anniversary of Cal Ripken playing in his record 2,131st consecutive game, Dodger center fielder Brett Butler will be playing in his first game since being diagnosed with cancer.

The Dodgers believe it will just as emotional, with many comparing it in some respects to 1991 when starter Orel Hershiser returned after arm surgery.

"The anticipation was there it was very emotional," said Pat Screnar, the Dodger physical therapist who was instrumental in Hershiser's comeback. "I think the feelings will be very similar.

"What he stands for is all people stricken with cancer. If you have the will and determination and faith, you can conquer it. He's going to show people at the stadium, and all over the world, that you can overcome something like that."

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Dodger center fielder Wayne Kirby will return to the bench Friday to make room for Butler in the lineup.

"There's nothing I can really do about it," Kirby said. "But the bottom line is that we're here to win. Really, it was his job at the beginning of the year, and I'm just filling in. It's like he was on the [disabled list] and is coming off now. I feel good because I proved to people that I can play the game."

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Second baseman Delino DeShields, who missed a bunt sign in the eighth inning Tuesday night, did not start Wednesday. He also is in a 0-for-13 slump with six strikeouts, dropping his batting average to .228.

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Former Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda was honored by the Mets before the game, and he told the fans at Shea Stadium that the 1988 National League championship series was the greatest postseason series that he was involved in during his 20-year career.

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