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Konerko Ready for Rah-Rah Deal

September 05, 1997|JASON REID

Infielder Paul Konerko has attended two major league games this week, which is two more than he had been to in recent memory.

Konerko said he loves the game. It's just that the Dodgers' top prospect--called up from triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday--rarely had the opportunity to go to games while growing up in Phoenix, and for the last few years he has been busy in the minors.

All that figures to change soon, because Konerko will probably become a familiar face around Dodger Stadium.

"This has been a great experience for me because I think I was 16 the last time I went to a big league game," said Konerko, 21. "I've been to two spring training camps with the club, but this is different.

"Being here is really like icing on the cake for me because I didn't expect this. The only goal I had was to work hard and produce."

Konerko did that, batting .323 with 37 home runs and 127 runs batted in for the Dukes en route to being selected the Pacific Coast League most valuable player. Konerko, who plays third and first, realizes he probably won't play much with the Dodgers battling for the National League West title.

"If they want me to sit in the dugout and be a cheerleader, that's fine with me," Konerko said. "I've worked so hard to get here that being here and supporting everybody is enough for me now."

But Manager Bill Russell might surprise Konerko.

"If somebody needed a day off at first or third, I'd use him," Russell said. "Sure, I'd use him. That's what we brought him up here for."


Despite their two tough losses in Texas, the Dodgers say they aren't shaken beginning the final stretch. Not in the least.

"We all know what we still have to do," second baseman Eric Young said. "We have a good nucleus of guys in [the clubhouse], and no one hangs their head or gets too down. We've already forgotten about all that."


If there is a one-game playoff to decide the NL West title, it will be held in San Francisco. The Giants, Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates won coin flips to determine home-field advantage for one-game playoffs if they are tied for first place at the end of the regular season.


* Opponent--Florida Marlins, four games.

* Site--Dodger Stadium.

* Tonight--7.

* TV--Fox Sports West 2 tonight, Channel 11 Saturday.

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

* Records--Dodgers 78-62, Florida 83-55.

* Record vs. Marlins--1-6.


* Update--The Dodgers were happy to get out of Texas, where they lost both games of a short interleague series to the Rangers. They return to Dodger Stadium for a six-game home stand, which includes two games against the Atlanta Braves. Martinez is 2-0 with a 1.64 earned-run average in two starts since returning from the disabled list Aug. 20. Florida is among the league's hottest teams, having won six in a row. The Marlins, second in the NL East, are leading the wild-card race. Fernandez, signed as a free agent during the off-season, has been outstanding since the All-Star break. Fernandez has won seven of his previous eight starts and 12 of his last 15.

* Saturday, 1 p.m.--Chan Ho Park (13-6, 3.12) vs. Livan Hernandez (9-0, 2.75).

* Sunday, 1 p.m.--Tom Candiotti (9-5, 3.08) vs. Tony Saunders (3-5, 3.99)

* Monday, 7 p.m.--Hideo Nomo (13-10, 4.15) vs. Kevin Brown (12-8, 2.74)

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