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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : DODGERS

Fifth Starter Park Right on Schedule

March 24, 1997|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Chan Ho Park, who has won the Dodgers' fifth starter's job, showed Sunday why the Dodgers selected him over veteran knuckleballer Tom Candiotti.

Park was impressive in the Dodgers' 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros, giving up five hits and one run and striking out four in four innings.

"Park was outstanding," Manager Bill Russell said. "He's got the stuff to do it, and you saw it today. He's right on schedule."

Park will make his first start April 5 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Dodger Stadium, but isn't expected to start again until May 1. The Dodgers have five off days in April and are expected to employ a four-man rotation. This will allow Park to be used much like Ismael Valdes two years ago, bouncing from the bullpen to the rotation until mid-May.

Park is 2-0 this spring with a 4.73 earned-run average, striking out 12 and walking five in 13 1/3 innings. Candiotti is 0-2 with an 8.24 ERA, walking 17 batters in 19 2/3 innings.

"I've been very happy," Park said. "I'm ready to go, physically, mentally, and can't wait to go back to L.A. and get some Korean food again.

"I'd like to start, and I'm ready to start, but I feel a little sorry for Candiotti. I don't want to steal his job because he's been so nice to me. He's given me a lot of confidence.

"I'll always be thankful."

*

Utility infielder Nelson Liriano is expected to go on the 15-day disabled list at the season's start because of recurring shoulder tendinitis.

The move would allow the Dodgers to keep Chad Fonville and Chip Hale on their opening-day roster, delaying a final decision until Liriano is healthy.

*

New Hall of Fame member Tom Lasorda will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day April 1 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

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