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BASEBALL EXTRA | DODGER REPORT : NOTES

Death of Former Teammate Hurts Young

September 15, 1997|STEVE SPRINGER

It has been a long week for Dodger second baseman Eric Young.

Never mind the batting slump that saw him go zero-for-20 until he finally got a hit on his fourth trip to the plate Sunday afternoon.

There will other chances for a base hit.

But there will not be another chance for Young to see Dwight Giles, his teammate on the Rutgers University football team and his closest friend.

"He was like a brother," Young said of Giles, 30, who died Monday.

Young wouldn't go into the details of Giles' death, but he conceded he had been badly shaken since receiving a call Monday night that his friend was gone.

"That's not an excuse," Young said when asked if the death had contributed to his slump. "Those are things you have to deal with as a professional. I knew I just had to turn it around."

But Young said he couldn't do that until he could accept the death of Giles, whom he had seen last month on a visit to New York while still a member of the Colorado Rockies.

"I was in denial the first couple of days," Young said. "I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to."

He talked to his parents and to his teammates, but he found he couldn't handle the tragic news until Saturday when Giles was buried in New Jersey. That put some finality to the loss.

Young's hitless streak, which began last Monday, including six strikeouts in 20 at-bats.

It finally ended Sunday on a ball that appeared headed for Houston Astro shortstop Ricky Gutierrez, only to clear his head and land safely on the turf in left field.

"When I first hit it," Young said, "I didn't think it was going to get there. I didn't think it had enough oomph.

"It sure felt good to run the bases again instead of making that turn back to the dugout."

Ending his slump was nice. Seeing the Dodgers end their five-game losing streak was even nicer.

But ending his grief won't be so easy.

*

Todd Hollandsworth started in left field for the Dodgers for the second consecutive day, his first two starts since breaking his right arm Aug. 1. Hollandsworth is one for six in his return.

*

Second baseman Tripp Cromer is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament near his right elbow, using part of one of his tendons.

Cromer will not be allowed to throw a baseball for four months and isn't expected back on the playing field for eight to nine months.

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