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BASEBALL EXTRA | DODGER REPORT : NOTES

Worrell Gets the Night Off as Russell Checks Options

September 17, 1997|STEVE SPRINGER

Has Todd Worrell, the struggling Dodger closer, lost his confidence?

"No, he hasn't lost it," pitching coach Dave Wallace said, "but maybe he's searching for it a little bit."

Along with his control.

It was a somber homecoming for Worrell, who suffered his 10th blown save of the season Monday night at Busch Stadium, where he pitched for seven seasons for the Cardinals. Asked to protect a two-run lead in the ninth inning, Worrell, the location on his pitches again off the mark, was unable to do so.

Although the Dodgers went on to win in the 15th inning, Worrell, who has been through all the ups and downs of relieving in a dozen years in the majors, had trouble shaking this low point.

When the game was over, he talked to Wallace about his struggles.

"He was down," Wallace said, "You could see it in his face. But he'll be fine. He's a professional. He's the team's save leader. He's got to be in there again."

But not Tuesday.

Manager Bill Russell allowed Worrell to come to the stadium late Tuesday so that he could visit with his family. Russell and Wallace also decided to give Worrell a night off on the mound unless the bullpen totally fell apart.

"Sometimes you need a night off mentally as well as physically," Wallace said.

And then what? Will Russell experiment with other closers in these closing days of the season, in the midst of a pennant race if Worrell, who has 35 saves, continues to falter?

"I can't rule that out," Russell said.

Russell has already reined Worrell in on a tight leash, and, after Monday, that leash appears to have gotten even tighter.

"You can't use him for three or four days in a row," Russell said, "maybe only a day or two. And if a left-handed hitting batter is leading off the inning, we'll go with [Scott] Radinsky [who got the save Tuesday].

"But we still need [Worrell] when the situation calls for him."

And how does Worrell feel about a more restricted role?

It's hard to say, because he isn't speaking to the media.

*

Second baseman Tripp Cromer is recovering from successful 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 for eight to nine months.

ON DECK

* Opponent--San Francisco Giants, two games.

* Site--3Com Park, San Francisco.

* Tonight--7:30 p.m.

* TV--Fox Sports West 2 tonight, Channel 5 Thursday.

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

* Records--Dodgers 84-67, Giants 82-69.

* Record vs. Giants--6-4.

TONIGHT'S GAME DODGERS' CHAN HO PARK (13-7, 3.48 ERA vs. GIANTS' KIRK RUETER (12-6, 3.50 ERA)

* Update--The Dodgers would appear to have the edge in this two-game showdown for the National League West lead. They have already taken six out of 10 from the Giants this season, including three out of four at Dodger Stadium in their last meeting. And that was before the Dodgers revamped their lineup by adding Otis Nixon, Eric Young and Darren Lewis. "We're even better than the last time we played," Manager Bill Russell said. "They [the Giants] know that. We couldn't have come from that far back [eight games] without being a better team." Although Park and Tom Candiotti have been the Dodgers' most consistent pitchers, both are coming off rough outings. Park lasted only 4 2/3 innings against the Houston Astros last Friday and was saddled with a loss. In his previous start, he was gone after four innings.

* Thursday, 12:30 p.m.--Dodgers' Tom Candiotti (10-6, 3.29) vs. Giants' Terry Mulholland (6-13, 4.15)

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