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BASEBALL EXTRA | DODGER REPORT : NOTES

The Plot to Dodge the Draft

May 29, 1997|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Arizona Diamondback Manager Buck Showalter sat last week with Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president, and gave fair warning.

"I told Fred, 'You might as well give those players up now,' " Showalter said, "because you're not going to protect them all this fall, anyway."

Six months remain before the Nov. 17 expansion draft, but the draft weighs on the Dodgers' minds, and they acknowledge it already is having an impact on their decisions.

"It's very much in our focus," Claire said. "We have a lot of very important decisions to make. We're spending a lot of time making our own evaluations."

The Dodgers and the other 27 major league teams can protect 15 players in their organization from the draft. Everyone is eligible except those who have played fewer than three professional seasons, or four seasons if they were signed before age 19.

This means the Dodgers don't have to protect standout third baseman Adrian Beltre of Class-A Vero Beach or shortstop Alex Cora of double-A San Antonio.

Yet, considering their abundance of talent, the Dodgers concede they can't protect them all. If the draft were conducted today, they would leave starter Pedro Astacio, third baseman Todd Zeile, outfielder Billy Ashley and left-handed reliever Scott Radinsky unprotected.

The Dodgers would prefer to trade those players before losing them to the expansion draft.

Here is the Dodgers' projected list of protected players:

Catcher: Mike Piazza. Infielders: Eric Karros, Paul Konerko and Wilton Guerrero. Outfielders: Raul Mondesi, Todd Hollandsworth, Karim Garcia and Roger Cedeno. Pitchers: Ramon Martinez, Ismael Valdes, Hideo Nomo, Chan Ho Park, Darren Dreifort, Antonio Osuna and Mark Guthrie.

*

Center fielder Brett Butler, who was found to have cancer of the tonsils last year, was elated to learn Wednesday he has been given a clean bill of health in that regard. Dr. William Grist, who performed the surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and 49 lymph nodes May 21, 1996, conducted a series of tests that detected no cancer. . . . Cedeno, batting .148 his first week on the job, will be replaced in the starting lineup tonight by Hollandsworth.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

ON DECK

* Opponent--St. Louis Cardinals, four games.

* Site--Busch Stadium.

* Tonight--5.

* TV--Channel 5 tonight, Friday and Sunday; Channel 11 Saturday.

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

* Records--Dodgers 26-23; Cardinals 21-28.

* Record vs. Cardinals--1-1.

DODGERS' PEDRO ASTACIO (3-3, 3.05 ERA) VS. CARDINALS' MATT MORRIS (1-3, 2.88 ERA)

* Update--The Cardinals have gotten off to a dismal start. They have won only five of their last 16 games, and are 9-19 on the road. They had the worst batting average and on-base percentage in the major leagues going into the week but that all changed on their recent trip. The Cardinals scored 35 runs in their last four games, batting 53 for 150 with 12 doubles and three home runs. They had scored only 15 runs in their previous seven games. It is the first time this season the Cardinals have produced 10 or more hits in four consecutive games. Outfielder Ray Lankford, despite missing the first 17 games, has carried the offensive load. Lankford has a team-leading 32 runs batted in, including nine in the last four games. He is batting .366, including .450 with runners in scoring position. Former Dodger second baseman Delino DeShields finally is getting hot. He is batting .287 and has been reinstalled as the leadoff hitter. He went eight for 19 on their trip and is 20 for 54 in his last 13 games.

* Friday, 5 p.m.--Ramon Martinez (4-3, 3.49 ERA) vs. Andy Benes (3-2, 2.93 ERA).

* Saturday, 1 p.m.--Ismael Valdes (3-5, 2.25 ERA) vs. Todd Stottlemyre (3-3, 4.02 ERA).

* Sunday, 11:15 a.m.--Chan Ho Park (3-2, 3.04 ERA) vs. Danny Jackson (1-0, 6.52 ERA).

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