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Ashley Not One to Look Over Shoulder


Dodger left fielder Billy Ashley may finally be getting the opportunity he long has awaited to display his hitting prowess, but he doesn't dare look back for fear of who's coming.

"If you don't do the job, they've got plenty of outfielders who will," said Ashley, who began Tuesday's game batting .435 [10 for 23] with two homers and seven runs batted in in his last seven starts. "I mean, they've got outfielders stacked up around here. It's unbelievable."

Ashley currently is platooning in left field with Eric Anthony. Yet, his situation is so precarious that not even Dodger Manager Bill Russell can predict from one day to the next who'll be in the outfield.

Right now, he has Todd Hollandsworth, the 1996 rookie of the year, sitting on the bench. He has Brett Butler, one of the game's finest leadoff hitters, close to being able to play again. And he has Karim Garcia, the organization's top outfield prospect with 16 homers at triple-A Albuquerque, ready to be called up.

It has become so complex that Russell summoned Hollandsworth into his office to explain the situation. Hollandsworth is expected to be back in the lineup Thursday, replacing center fielder Roger Cedeno, but the Ashley-Anthony platoon is performing too well for Hollandsworth and Cedeno to be playing every day.

It's really a day-to-day thing," Russell said. "Ashley and Anthony are playing well. I talked to Holly. He understood. I didn't expect him to welcome it with open arms, but he understood."

Don't ask Russell what will happen if Butler returns, but Russell believes that Butler will at least try to play with the cartilage tear in his left shoulder.

"The pain is tolerable, he can play with it," Russell said. "We haven't made a decision what we'll do with him yet, but I'm sure it's coming pretty quick."


The personal service contracts that Dodger President Peter O'Malley is providing his front-office staff have been for at least three years and up to five years.

Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president, is expected to receive a five-year contract.


Dodger outfielder Wayne Kirby begrudgingly accepted an assignment to triple-A Albuquerque instead of declaring free agency.

The Dodgers gave Kirby the opportunity to be claimed by any team in the major leagues, but he cleared waivers, and decided to accept the minor-league assignment rather than forfeit the remainder of his $450,000 salary.

"He'll go hit his .350 at Albuquerque and see where that goes," said Steve Greenberg, Kirby's agent. "He hasn't played a lot so he didn't entice a team. If Wayne is playing extremely well, there'll be opportunities. The Dodgers aren't vindictive. Wayne's a very positive person, he knows what he has to do."


Dodger second baseman Wilton Guerrero aggravated his bruised left shoulder and was scratched just before Tuesday's game.

Guerrero, who originally sustained the injury in spring training and hurt it again May 5, said that he has no trouble hitting against right-handers. The Dodgers aren't scheduled to face another left-handed starter until Sunday.


Dodger reliever Darren Dreifort, who's eligible to come off the disabled list, is not expected to be activated for at least another 10 days to two weeks.

Dreifort, who threw curveballs for the first time since suffering elbow tendinitis, will pitch a simulated game Friday in St. Louis. He then is expected to be sent out on a rehabilitative assignment next week.

"He's just not ready," Russell said.


Dodger third base coach Joey Amalfitano will not accompany the team on its trip to St. Louis and Houston so he can be with his wife, Kay, who will undergo surgery today on her fractured heal and ankle suffered two weeks ago in a car accident.

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