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BASEBALL EXTRA | DODGER REPORT : NOTES

Garcia Waiting for Phone to Ring

May 23, 1997|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Karim Garcia, batting .293 with 14 homers and 37 RBIs at triple-A Albuquerque, said he's waiting for Dodgers to call him up.

"I definitely feel I'm ready," Garcia said. "I've got nothing else to prove here. It's not like it's my first year. It's my third year.

"I'm a little frustrated because I know I'm ready."

The Dodgers have told Garcia, 21, to remain patient. They don't want him coming up and sitting on the bench. Right now, Roger Cedeno has the first crack at the everyday job.

"We called up Roger because our need is for a center fielder," said Fred Claire, executive vice president. "He's doing a good job. We're watching him."

*

First baseman Eric Karros has produced the most stunning statistic of the Dodger season:

He has five stolen bases, which ranks second on the team. Karros entered the season with 16 stolen bases in his five-year career.

"I'm not going to steal a base just to say, 'Oh, boy, I stole a base,' " Karros said.

"It's just that the way we're going right now, any time we can get in scoring position, you've got to take it. We don't get into scoring position too often. I'm sure if we were swinging the bat the way we're capable of, I wouldn't be going."

*

Left fielder Billy Ashley has been using a shipment of Jose Canseco's bats, instead of his own, which has caused a bit of a problem.

Ashley has lost several bats when they have slipped out of his hands and into the crowd. The custom is for the player to offer another bat in exchange for the game bat.

"That's the trouble," Ashley said. "No one wants my bat in exchange. They want to keep Jose's."

ON DECK

* Opponent--Atlanta Braves, three games.

* Site--Dodger Stadium.

* Tonight--7.

* TV--Channel 5 tonight; Fox West Sports 2, Saturday and Sunday.

* Radio--KABC (790), KWKW (1330).

* Records--Dodgers 23-21; Braves 32-13.

* Record vs. Braves--1-1.

TONIGHT'S GAME

DODGERS' PEDRO ASTACIO (3-2, 2.78 ERA) vs. BRAVES' JOHN SMOLTZ (5-3, 2.64 ERA)

* Update--If the Dodgers don't have enough problems, coming off a disastrous 3-7 trip in which they faced the three worst teams in the National League, they now must face the best team in baseball. The Dodgers were pummeled, 14-0, in their last series in Atlanta, their worst shutout defeat in 32 years. With new leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton and right fielder Michael Tucker, the Braves have never had a more versatile offense. They rank third in the National League with a .291 batting average and 224 runs. In contrast, the Dodgers have a .247 batting average and have scored a major league low 258 runs. Jeff Blauser, Atlanta's No. 8 hitter, is batting .373 with six home runs and 23 RBIs. The Braves lead the major leagues with a 2.68 ERA. The Dodgers catch a break by missing ace Greg Maddux, but they still will face former Cy Young winners John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, along with Denny Neagle. The trio have combined for a 17-5 record and 2.72 ERA. The Braves have spent $82 million the last six months to keep their rotation intact, and that's without signing potential free agent Maddux.

* Saturday, 7 p.m.--Ramon Martinez (3-3, 3.71) vs. Tom Glavine (5-2, 2.08).

* Sunday, 1 p.m.--Ismael Valdes (2-5, 2.53) vs. Denny Neagle (7-0, 3.46 ERA).

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