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NOTES : Since He Is No. 2, Zeile Tries Harder

June 20, 1997|CHRIS BAKER

Dodger Manager Bill Russell has used 47 different lineups, but his best move may have been inserting third baseman Todd Zeile into the second spot in the batting order.

Zeile, who has batted second in nine games, is 11 for 36 (.306) with five home runs and eight RBIs in that spot.

"He struggled early, but he's hitting now," Russell said of Zeile, who had three home runs as the Dodgers swept a two-game series from the Angels.

Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president, said Zeile has been a good acquisition.

"There are a lot of knowns about Todd because he's played in the National League for three years," Claire said. "He wants to be in the lineup every day and he has a good record of production.

"You find out more about people when they're dealing with adversity than when they're dealing with success, and when Todd got off to a slow start he never made an excuse, he never said anything.

"He dealt with it and he worked at it. You respect somebody like that."


Giant Manager Dusty Baker, who had a long-running feud with former Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda, said he has no grudge against Russell, a former teammate.

"Me and Russell have always been cool," Baker said. "I was always cool with my teammates. I respect Billy Russell. He was probably one of the most honest guys I played with. What you see is what you get. He's not fake and he's not phony. He's going to give you his honest opinion."


Russell said he switched his rotation to give Ramon Martinez more rest because he has thrown a lot of pitches (230) in his last two outings.

Martinez, who was scheduled to start tonight, will pitch Saturday and Ismael Valdes, who was scheduled to start Saturday, will pitch tonight.


Claire said he would not be opposed to trading pitcher Tom Candiotti, who was moved to the bullpen last season.

"I don't think it's a secret that he'd like to be a starting pitcher," Claire said. "But if we were to trade him we would cut our depth and put ourselves at risk. That wouldn't prevent me from doing it, but if one of our starting pitchers went down, he's an established pitcher who could step in."



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* Update--Valdes, angered after Manager Bill Russell removed him for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning of a 5-4 loss to the Giants at Dodger Stadium on June 5, has lost three decisions in a row, including an 8-2 loss at Seattle on Sunday. With eight losses in 14 starts this season, he already has surpassed his seven losses in 33 starts last year. The Dodgers were batting .294 in their last 11 games with 18 home runs going into Thursday night's game. They hit .268 in their six interleague games. Stan Javier, who hit a sixth-inning home run Thursday, has homered in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. The Giants have won five in a and six of their last seven.

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