Advertisement

Grudzielanek Happy to See Dodger Green . . . er, Blue

Baseball: Shortstop feels reborn in new uniform after some bitter years in Montreal.

August 02, 1998|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — Mark Grudzielanek doesn't have fond memories of his time with the Montreal Expos.

The shortstop criticized the organization's payroll-slashing policy, straining his relationship with team management. He was also unhappy--and vocal--about his situation, increasing the tension.

To say the least, Grudzielanek and the Expos weren't a good match.

But Grudzielanek appreciates what Montreal did before Friday night's trading deadline, sending him and left-handed pitcher Carlos Perez to the Dodgers in a seven-player deal.

Grudzielanek is pleased about leaving the Expos--and even happier about joining the Dodgers.

"This is the best thing that could have happened for me," Grudzielanek said before a 2-1 loss to the New York Mets.

"To be part of an organization like this, a team with such a winning tradition, this is what I've always wanted. Really, it's just great."

The newest Dodger infielder arrived Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium excited and ready to work. He contributed quickly while batting second, singling in his first at-bat, and went two for four.

Grudzielanek didn't have much time to become familiar with his new surroundings, but he didn't mind.

"It's probably going to take some time for everything to sink in because this has happened really fast, and it's the first time I've gone through anything like this," he said. "But putting this uniform on for the first time and stepping out on the field, that made me believe that it's all happening.

"With all the superstars we have on this team, I feel like I'm 18 years old again. After everything that happened in Montreal the last few years, it's definitely a treat to be playing with these guys."

Understandably, Grudzielanek, 28, wants to forget his Montreal experience.

He made his major league debut with the Expos in 1995--the season team ownership began its payroll assault. The rookie watched as what many considered the game's most talented team was steadily dismantled.

"It was tough to be there with that whole thing going on," Grudzielanek said. "When you see the guys we had leaving left and right, and knowing we had no chance to compete, that's hard when you're a competitor.

"We could have been a great team in the National League, I know it. We could have challenged the Braves if they would have just left us alone."

The Expos struggled, but Grudzielanek thrived offensively.

He batted .306 with 201 hits and 33 stolen bases in 1996, and was selected to the All-Star game. Last season, he batted .273 with 26 steals, and tied a major league record for shortstops with 54 doubles.

Grudzielanek, now hitting .278, isn't considered as skilled defensively, leading NL shortstops with 32 errors last season. He has committed a league-high 24 errors this season, including one Saturday against the Mets.

Some teams might have rewarded Grudzielanek with a multiyear deal, but not the cost-conscious Expos. In protest of his contract situation, Grudzielanek briefly walked out of spring training last season.

"That's why coming here after three years there, I feel so good about this," he said. "I believe with the way I fit into the lineup here, I can help."

His new teammates agree.

"Grudzielanek is like a leadoff hitter who bats second," leadoff hitter Eric Young said. "It's like having two leadoff hitters with him because he commands that respect from pitchers.

"They have to throw him strikes because they know what he can do. I think you're going to see a similar situation, that same excitement, that me and Otis [Nixon] had at the top last year."

That's Grudzielanek's intention.

"This is the place I want to be because I want to win," Grudzielanek said.

"I'm going to do my damnedest to make this work."

The Dodgers are counting on it.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Get Your Programs Here!

Of the 25 players who were on the Dodgers' opening day roster, 12 are on the active roster today. A look:

Opening Day Roster

CATCHERS

Mike Piazzatraded to Florida

Tom Prince: on active roster

INFIELDERS

Eric Young: on active roster

Todd Zeile: traded to Florida

Jose Vizcaino: on disabled list

Wilton Guerrero: traded to Montreal

Juan Castro: on active roster

Paul Konerko: traded to Cincinnati

OUTFIELDERS

Raul Mondesi: on active roster

Todd Hollandsworth: on disabled list

Thomas Howard: released

Mike Devereaux: released

Trenidad Hubbard: on active roster

Matt Luke: waived, back on active roster

PITCHERS

Ramon Martinez: on disabled list

Hideo Nomo: traded to New York Mets

Ismael Valdes: on disabled list

Mark Guthrie: on active roster

Scott Radinsky: on active roster

Chan Ho Park: on active roster

Darren Dreifort: on active roster

Darren Hall: on active roster

Antonio Osuna: on active roster

Jim Bruske: traded to San Diego

Frank Lankford: Rule V draftee returned to New York Yankees

Current Roster

CATCHERS

Charles Johnson: acquired from Florida

Tom Prince: on active roster

INFIELDERS

Eric Young: spent time on disabled list

Mark Grudzielanek: acquired from Montreal

Juan Castro: on active roster

Eric Karros: started season on disabled list

Adrian Beltre: recalled from minors

Alex Cora: recalled from minors

OUTFIELDERS

Raul Mondesi: on active roster

Gary Sheffield: acquired from Florida

Trenidad Hubbard: on active roster

Matt Luke: on active roster

Roger Cedeno: started season on disabled list

Jim Eisenreich: acquired from Florida

PITCHERS

Mark Guthrie: on active roster

Scott Radinsky: on active roster

Chan Ho Park: on active roster

Darren Dreifort: on active roster

Antonio Osuna: on active roster

Jeff Shaw: acquired from Cincinnati

Dave Mlicki: acquired from New York Mets

Carlos Perez: acquired from Montreal

Brian Bohanon: acquired from N.Y. Mets

Darren Hall: activated from disabled list

Mike Judd: recalled from Albuquerque

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|