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It's Time Karros Loves Most

September 21, 1996|BOB NIGHTENGALE

It started when Eric Karros was 11 years old and hit a game-winning triple in his Little League all-star game. It continued at Patrick Henry High in San Diego, at UCLA, in the minor leagues, and now it's happening again.

"He's been that way ever since I can remember," said George Karros, Eric's father. "This has been going on all of his life. It amazes me because I don't know where he gets that from."

The bigger the game, the greater Karros' performances.

Karros, who hit a three-run homer in the first inning of the Dodgers' 7-0 victory Thursday, thrives in pressure situations.

He hit a home run in his first at-bat in his first start in 1992, playing in front of his family and friends at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. He hit 15 homers and drove in 46 runs the last two months for the Dodgers last year, and batted .500 with two homers and four RBIs in the playoffs against Cincinnati. And now he has driven in 51 runs in his last 51 games, including Thursday's key home run.

"I just think I concentrate more in those situations," said Karros, who has 32 homers and 107 RBIs. "This whole season, especially the second half, has been geared for this last week.

"I know games in April mean as much in September, but it's not easy for me to play in April and May. It seems like when it's do-or-die, that's what really gets me going. I don't know how I'd react playing for a club that's 30 games out at this point.

"At this time of year, it becomes more of a mental battle than a physical battle, and really, I think that's what got me to the big leagues."


Manager Bill Russell called catcher Mike Piazza into his office Friday to tell him there was a misunderstanding when he said that Padre third baseman Ken Caminiti would be his choice for most valuable player award. Russell was under the impression that he could not pick any of his own players.

"I was a little confused," Piazza said, "but he talked to me and explained what the deal was. He told me he misunderstood the question. As far as I'm concerned, I would give up a batting title and the MVP for a World Series ring. I'm sure you ask Barry Larkin that last year, and he would tell you the same thing.

"I know how difficult a decision it will be to make. But whatever happens, happens."


The worst-kept secret in the Dodger organization is that they already have decided to extend Russell's contract after the season. "We have made no official announcement," said Fred Claire, executive vice president, "but you know how I feel about him. I think he's done a very good job." . . . The Padres yanked Bob Tewksbury out of Sunday's start and replaced him with Andy Ashby. Tewksbury is 1-5 with a 5.68 earned-run average in his last 11 starts. . . . Ramon Martinez's 12 strikeouts Thursday were his most since June 4, 1990, when he struck out a career-high 18 against the Atlanta Braves. . . . Channel 5 will add three Dodger home games to their home schedule if they are meaningful to the pennant race: Thursday against the San Francisco Giants and Sept. 27 and Sept. 29 against the Padres.

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