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Konerko to Wait, but Not Patiently

September 13, 1997|STEVE SPRINGER

Dodger infielder Paul Konerko, already named the Pacific Coast League's Most Valuable, added more honors this week when he was named minor league player of the year by the Baseball America and Baseball Weekly publications. But Konerko, who hit .323 for triple-A Albuquerque with 37 home runs and 127 RBIs in 130 games, would trade all the awards for a starting job with the parent club next season.

Still, he's under no illusion about what that will require with Eric Karros at first and Todd Zeile at third.

"In some organizations, you have to knock on the door," Konerko said. "In this organization, you've got to kick the door down. You have to do your job so well that they have to find a place for you. You just have to try to force the issue."

If Konerko has already done that with his spectacular season, and if Executive Vice President Fred Claire decides to go with youth and potential and a smaller salary, the Dodgers could leave either Karros or Zeile unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft, or could try to trade one of them.

But barring such a development, if Claire cannot find a place in the Dodger lineup for Konerko next season, how would Konerko feel about being asked to put in another season at Albuquerque?

"If they feel they've got the best product out there, that would be understandable," Konerko said. "I would go to Albuquerque and wait my turn."

Claire isn't about to show his cards this early.

"Who did we lose in the expansion draft?" Claire said. "What's our budget for next year [with new ownership expected to come in]? How did we finish the season?

"You give me those answers and I'll give you an answer."


In the Dodger clubhouse before the game, publicity director Derrick Hall distributed copies of a Times article in which Colorado Rockies Manager Don Baylor, in discussing candidates for the National League's most-valuable-player award, called Dodger catcher Mike Piazza "one-dimensional."

The Dodgers still have seven games against the Rockies left, including the last four games of the season in Denver.

Said Dodger second baseman Eric Young, who played for Baylor, "I sure wouldn't want to get Mike mad."


Chan Ho Park and Tom Candiotti will be the Dodger starters Wednesday and Thursday in the club's showdown series against the San Francisco Giants. The Giants are expected to counter with Kirk Rueter and Danny Darwin.


Broadcaster Vin Scully flew to Houston but had to miss the game because of a sore throat that robbed him of his voice.

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