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BASEBALL EXTRA | DODGER REPORT : NOTES

Karros Not Cleaning Up, so He's No. 6

May 18, 1997|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Manager Bill Russell, who vowed he would not play favorites when he took the job, dropped first baseman Eric Karros in the lineup for the first time in three years.

Karros, who has driven in only one run this month, was removed from the cleanup spot and dropped to sixth for the first time since July 26, 1994. Russell instead batted Raul Mondesi in the cleanup spot and moved Todd Zeile to fifth.

"We're just trying to get more offense going," Russell said, "and obviously Zeile and Mondy are swinging the bat better than he is. He's obviously had a lot of success batting cleanup, but right now he's struggling.

"This will take more pressure off him down there. It's a little different in the six spot. A little change of scenery might give him a little different thought process."

Karros was summoned into Russell's office, was informed of the decision, and simply walked out.

"That's his call," Karros said, "he's the manager. He gets to make the decisions. I'm not going to sit and argue with him. I didn't bother to ask questions. I just walked out.

"If he's doing this to change the lineup, and it's something that will help the ballclub, that's fine. But to say it's to take the pressure off is ridiculous. There is no pressure."

Karros, who is batting .234 with three homers and 13 RBIs, has struggled this year with men on base. He's hitting .171 with runners in scoring position, and since April 22 is hitting .050 with runners on second or third. He was 0 for 4 Saturday.

"I'm sure his shoulder [tendinitis] has a lot to do with it," Russell said. "We're done everything we can to help him, but you have to take it into the game.

"Hopefully, this will get him going and he'll be moved back up there."

*

Mondesi had not batted cleanup since last season.

"I'm batting fourth? Me? Really?" Mondesi said. "Wow, that surprises me. Maybe I'll have a chance at more RBIs."

Then again, if Mondesi has the same success as a year ago batting cleanup, his stay could be short-lived.

Mondesi batted .094 (three for 32) in the cleanup slot with one homer, six RBIs and nine strikeouts in 1996. He went two for five Saturday with a double and an RBI.

*

Third-base coach Joe Amalfitano said his wife, Kay, is fortunate to be alive after a serious car accident Friday afternoon. He will stay in Chicago to be with his wife, who is in stable condition at Lutheran General Hospital.

Kay Amalfitano, a passenger in the car driven by her sister, suffered three broken ribs, a fractured heel, a broken ankle and a cut on her forehead. She is scheduled to undergo surgery on her ankle and heel.

*

One prominent National League owner cautions that Rupert Murdoch's bid to purchase the Dodgers for $350 million hardly is a slam-dunk.

The Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs and Angels, each with huge stakes in the TV market, are expected to vote against Murdoch. He needs 75% approval by the National League owners and a majority approval by the American League owners.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

TODAY'S GAME

DODGERS' PEDRO ASTACIO (3-1, 2.04 ERA) vs. EXPOS' PEDRO MARTINEZ

(6-0, 0.79 ERA)

Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 10:30 a.m. PDT

TV--Channel 5. Radio--KABC (790 AM), KWKW (1330 AM).

* Update: No team has overachieved like the Expos. They have watched all-stars Marquis Grissom, Larry Walker, Jeff Fassero, Moises Alou, John Wetteland and Wil Cordero leave because of financial woes, but they still remain competitive. Pedro Martinez, who has a major-league low 0.79 earned-run average, is 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in three games against the Dodgers, his former team. Three of the Dodgers' everyday players--Raul Mondesi, Greg Gagne and Todd Hollandsworth--have yet to get a hit off Martinez in 16 at-bats. The Dodger offense continues to slump. Cleanup hitter Eric Karros has one RBI this month and has not driven in a run with a man in scoring position since April 22, spanning 20 at-bats.

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