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Butler Can Do Little but Watch

September 19, 1997|STEVE SPRINGER

Brett Butler envisioned these final weeks of the season as his farewell tour after 17 years in the big leagues.

What he never foresaw, however, was having to conduct that tour from the dugout.

At 40, with two bad shoulders, burdened by a batting slump and bumped by Darren Lewis and Todd Hollandsworth, who get most of the playing time in the outfield, Butler is spending his final days of his final big league season as a spectator.

But, he says, not a bitter spectator.

"I understand," he said. "Hey, I haven't done the job. They feel the other two guys are playing better. That's the way it is. I've only been hitting a buck fifty [three hits in his last 33 at-bats].

"I feel I've given everything I have left on the field. Hopefully, I'll still get an opportunity to contribute, but when the twilight of your career comes, you have to swallow your ego."

The prime force motivating Butler with only nine games left is that his one remaining goal is still within reach: being a member of a World Series champion.


For Butler, who was with the San Francisco Giants from 1988 through 1990, this is one of the most emotional stops on his final tour.

Although he joined the Dodgers in 1991, Butler recalled with a smile the moment he publicly demonstrated he had switched from Giant black to Dodger blue.

It was in his first visit back to Candlestick Park. Before the game, the crowd was showering boos on its favorite target, Tom Lasorda.

"We've got to sever this," Butler said of his own relationship with the San Francisco crowd. "I need to do something."

When he was introduced to the crowd in the pregame ceremonies, Butler was expected to shake hands with Lasorda. Instead, he gave his manager a big hug.

The crowd hated it. Lasorda loved it.

Butler had truly become a Dodger.


San Francisco reliever Rod Beck had to work hard to pick up the victory Thursday. He not only got out of a bases-loaded, none-out situation in the 10th inning, but he went three full innings, the first time he has pitched that long in five years.

Beck went three innings against the Reds at Cincinnati in October 1992.


Saturday's game at Dodger Stadium against the Colorado Rockies, originally scheduled as a night game, has been moved up to 1 p.m. to accommodate television.


Opponent--Colorado Rockies, three games.

* Site--Dodger Stadium.

* Tonight--7.

* TV--Channel 5 tonight, Channel 11 Saturday, ESPN Sunday.

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

* Records--Dodgers 84-69, Rockies 78-75.

* Record vs. Rockies--4-1.


(13-11, 4.24 ERA)



(11-9, 3.84 ERA)

* Update--Tied with the San Francisco Giants for the NL West lead, the Dodgers have nine games left with seven of those nine against the Colorado Rockies, beginning with this three-game series. This is the start of a five-game home stand with two against the San Diego Padres before the Dodgers play their final four next weekend at Colorado. Although the Dodgers are coming off two losses, and four in a seven-game trip, first baseman Eric Karros would rather look at the glass as half full. "It doesn't matter how we got here," he said. "We're tied up now. It doesn't do any good to sit here and dwell on things. We have nine games to play, and we have to play better than the team we are tied with." But catcher Mike Piazza is not happy with the state of his club. "We're not playing good baseball," he said, "no matter who we are playing."

* Saturday, 1 p.m.--Dodgers' Ismael Valdes (9-11, 2.77) vs. Rockies' Jamie Wright (7-11, 6.50).

* Sunday, 5 p.m.--Ramon Martinez (9-4, 3.50) vs. Frank Castillo (11-11, 5.43).

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