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BASEBALL EXTRA | DODGER REPORT : NOTES

New Owners Might Find a Big Expense in Right Field

May 13, 1997|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Right fielder Raul Mondesi doesn't know who Rupert Murdoch is and really doesn't care, but whoever becomes the next owner of the Dodgers may soon want to introduce himself to Mondesi.

The two figure to get acquainted quickly in the off-season.

Mondesi is in the final year of a three-year contract that is paying him $2.7 million this season, and the way he's playing, that could change.

Mondesi has been the most consistent Dodger, leading the team with seven homers, 21 RBIs, 19 runs and eight stolen bases. If he continues the pace, he will finish with 33 homers, 100 RBIs and 38 stolen bases.

"I want to be considered one of the top players in baseball," said Mondesi, whose .275 batting average is 74 points higher than at this time last year.

Mondesi was dropped from third in the batting order to fifth and appears to be much more comfortable there. He is hitting .339 as the No. 5 hitter, where he has stolen seven of his eight bases.

Manager Bill Russell said, "He'll always be an aggressive hitter. We'll never take that away from him. But now he's much more disciplined."

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The Dodgers are concerned about infielder Nelson Liriano but are hoping they don't have to put him on the disabled list.

Liriano has a strained chest muscle that has kept him from being used in recent key pinch-hitting opportunities.

In his only appearance since May 6, he laid down a sacrifice bunt.

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Second baseman Juan Castro's single a week ago was his first and only hit of the season.

The significance?

It left San Diego Padre catcher Don Slaught as the only player on an opening-day roster who has yet to get a hit.

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Bench coach Mike Scioscia on catcher Mike Piazza's improvement at throwing out runners:

"Mike's throwing has been much more consistent this year. We wanted to control the running game this year, keep guys from running at will like last year, and we've been successful so far."

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