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NOTES ON A SCORECARD

Butler's Short Return Is Long on Memories

September 12, 1996|ALLAN MALAMUD

In five days, Brett Butler provided a lifetime of inspiration. . . .

At 5 feet 10 and 160 pounds, he has earned a spot among the, pardon the expression, giants in Dodger history. . . .

Eric Karros says the Dodgers have been taking too much heat from the critics and the San Diego Padres have not been getting enough praise. . . .

"I've heard it said that we should be winning our division by 10 games," Karros said. "Well, if we were, our record would be a lot better than Atlanta's. Instead of getting down on us, people should be praising the Padres." . . .

Karros says he isn't surprised by the tightness of the NL West race. . . .

"The Padres figured to be very good," said Karros, a San Diego native. "They've got a lot of veteran players with postseason experience. The only question might have been their pitching, but that was answered early in the season." . . .

Like most of the Dodger batters, Karros struggled out of the gate. . . .

His slump was the most understandable because he played little during spring training because of injuries. . . .

But he has become a 100 runs-batted-in producer for the second consecutive season and has made as many good plays at first base as just about anyone in the league. . . .

"Every game has been a big one since the middle of August," he said. "Every at-bat, every play in the field is important. It's easy to get excited about coming to the park, certainly a lot easier than in 1992 when we were out of it in June." . . .

Bill Russell is involved in his first title race as a manager, but one-third of the 18 Dodger teams for which he primarily played shortstop advanced to the postseason. . . .

"The division race I remember best was in 1983 when we came back to win after getting way behind Atlanta," he said. . . .

Russell always was known as a clutch hitter who did much of his best work down the stretch. . . .

"I always felt that I could come through no matter what the situation," Russell said. "I don't want to brag, but I had that confidence even in high school. It's something that can't be taught." . . .

*

If the Padres don't change their rotation, Fernando Valenzuela will start against the Dodgers on Sept. 19 at San Diego. . . .

On Kirby Puckett Night in Minnesota, Dodger shortstop Greg Gagne was one of four former Twin teammates given special recognition by Puckett. The others were Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti and Dan Gladden. . . .

The players in the World Cup of Hockey might be in midseason form, but the officials aren't. . . .

Tennis Fantasy: For $5,000, you can be one of 11 people who play tennis with Pete Sampras on Saturday at UCLA. . . .

Proceeds will help to fund scholarships for the UCLA women's team that is coached by Sampras' sister, Stella. The U.S. Open champion personally is endowing a $100,000 scholarship. For information, call Barbara Gerken at (310) 206-7916. . . .

The third annual Jorge Jarrin Golf Classic, a benefit for the Alta Med Medical Foundation, is Monday at the La Canada Country Club. Spots are available by calling (213) 889-7323. . . .

Don't look now, but the Mighty Ducks and Kings will open their exhibition seasons Sunday at the Pond of Anaheim. . . .

First-round draft pick Ruslan Salei, a defenseman who played for Las Vegas in the International League last season, will make the Mighty Duck roster. . . .

Goaltender Stephane Fiset, acquired from Colorado, and right wing Vitali Yachmenev have been outstanding during King scrimmages. . . .

UCLA junior nose guard Weldon Forde did a terrific job in his debut at the position against Tennessee after being moved from outside linebacker during spring practice. . . .

There are 31 Californians on Oregon State's roster and no Oregonians on USC's. . . .

USC Coach John Robinson says John Allred "is playing as well as any tight end I've had." . . .

USC will play Oregon at the Coliseum this season--in women's soccer Sunday at 1 p.m. . . .

Ten NFL teams have 2-0 records, 10 are 1-1, and 10 are 0-2. . . .

Game of the Week: San Diego at Green Bay. . . .

For the record: Kickoff for the UCLA-Northeast Louisiana game at the Rose Bowl on Saturday is 7 p.m.

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