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DODGERS REPORT

Bullpen Is Home of Ex-Brave Clontz

April 10, 1998|JASON REID

The Dodgers needed help in their bullpen, and Brad Clontz needed work.

They got together Thursday.

The team signed Clontz to replace injured reliever Darren Hall, who went on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday because of a torn right rotator cuff. The former Atlanta Brave right-hander is getting a new start--and he said the opportunity couldn't be better.

"This is a great situation for me," he said. "This is a team that has some quality pitchers, and it's capable of scoring a lot of runs and winning a lot of games.

"This is the type of situation any reliever would want to pitch in. So I'm excited to get this chance for those reasons, and also because I'm just ready to get back to pitching."

The Atlanta Braves released Clontz, 26, on March 25. He was 1-1 with a 3.27 earned-run average in eight exhibition games.

"I really don't understand everything that went into it," said Clontz, who went 5-1 with one save and a 3.75 ERA in 51 games with the Braves last season.

"I was arbitration eligible, so I think there were some decisions made because of that. But I didn't doubt for a minute that I could still pitch, because I think I've proven myself."

Clontz was considered among the National League's better middle and long relievers during his three seasons with the Braves.

He pitched in a league-high 81 games in 1996, going 6-3 with a 5.69 ERA and one save. In 59 games in 1995, Clontz was 8-1 with a 3.65 ERA and four saves.

"The Braves brought those three [rookie pitchers] up last season, and it just seemed like I wasn't getting the same opportunities I used to. I like to go out there as often as I can get the ball."

That's what the Dodgers want to hear.

"He brings a lot of durability," pitching coach Glenn Gregson said. "When you check the mileage numbers on him, you see a guy who can give you a lot of innings."

Hall has a small tear similar to the one Ramon Martinez suffered last season, the Dodgers said.

He is following the same exercise rehabilitation program that Martinez used to avoid arthroscopic surgery. Although Hall is on the 15-day disabled list, the team isn't sure when he will return--possibly making Clontz's presence important, Manager Bill Russell said.

"He can play a lot of different roles, and he's been on a winner," Russell said. "That's a good combination."

*

Chan Ho Park doesn't understand all the concern about his lower back strain, which he suffered during spring training and aggravated in Tuesday's home opener.

Because of the discomfort, Park left after pitching six strong innings--and giving up an unearned run--in the Dodgers' 9-1 victory. He said his back feels OK, and added that a little pain might be good for him.

"I was very focused on my control because of my back," he said. "I've heard many pitchers say that sometimes when they're not feeling well, they pitch their best. So maybe this will help me win in the future too."

*

Shortstop Jose Vizcaino suffered a strained left hamstring in the Dodgers' four-run third inning Thursday night while beating a throw to first on a bunt.

Juan Castro ran for Vizcaino and replaced him at shortstop. Vizcaino's status is day to day.

ON DECK

* Opponent--Houston Astros, four games.

* Site--Dodger Stadium.

* Tonight--7.

* TV--Fox Sports West 2 Saturday, ESPN Sunday.

* Radio--AM 1150, KWKW (1330).

* Records--Dodgers 3-5, Astros 6-4.

* 1997 record vs. Astros--4-7.

Tonight's Game

DODGERS' RAMON MARTINEZ (1-1, 2.84 ERA)

vs.

HOUSTON'S SHANE REYNOLDS (1-0, 3.46 ERA)

* Update--Martinez ended the Dodgers' season-opening four-game losing streak in a 1-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. He had a perfect game through 6 2/3 innings, a no-hitter for 7 1/3 and gave up one hit with seven strikeouts and a walk in eight innings. Reynolds became the Astros' ace by default when Darryl Kile signed with the Colorado Rockies as a free agent. He won 16 games in 1996 but struggled last season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in June.

* Saturday, 7 p.m.--Darren Dreifort (0-0, 0.00) vs. Mike Hampton (1-0, 5.54).

* Sunday, 5 p.m.--Chan Ho Park (1-0, 1.69) vs. John Halama (0-1, 11.25).

* Monday, 5 p.m.--Hideo Nomo (0-1, 5.00) vs. Jose Lima (1-0, 1.29).

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