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It's No Grand Finale as Johnson Is Ejected

October 02, 2000|JASON REID

SAN DIEGO — Davey Johnson's last day on the job ended earlier than expected.

The embattled Dodger manager was ejected in the second inning Sunday afternoon in a 4-0, season-ending loss to the San Diego Padres before 43,691 at Qualcomm Stadium.

Second-base umpire Fielden Culbreth ejected Johnson for arguing a balk called against starter Darren Dreifort (12-9) after a heated exchange began between Dreifort and Culbreth.

Johnson watched the rest of the game from the clubhouse after waving his cap to the crowd and disappearing into the dugout seemingly for the final time as a Dodger.

Chairman Bob Daly and President Bob Graziano say they have not decided whether Johnson will return in 2001.

However, judging by his comments, Johnson figures they have.

"We have a good foundation here and I enjoyed being a Dodger," Johnson said. "I'm going fishing."

Johnson, under contract next season at $1.5 million, is scheduled to begin a Baja California fishing trip today in Cabo San Lucas. Johnson and Daly are expected to meet Friday before Johnson returns to his off-season home in Winter Park, Fla.

Many within the organization believe that General Manager Kevin Malone will survive the third organizational purge in as many seasons under Fox, and Johnson apparently figures that makes him the odd man out.

"The die has been cast, you know what I mean?" said baseball's winningest active manager. "I've been in this game a long time, and you know the way things work. When you have the payroll that we have [$98 million] here and you don't win, someone is going to take the brunt of it.

"I feel really good about a lot of the things we accomplished this season and the strides the organization is making. I think we're getting better."

The Dodgers (86-76) finished 11-4 in their final 15 games and second in the National League West.

Gary Sheffield said Johnson is not the problem.

"Davey is a good manager and Davey is respected all over this league," the all-star left fielder said. "I don't care who managed this team, [the results] wouldn't have been any different. I'm going to continue to support Davey because I feel he did his job."

Dreifort gave up six hits--including Ryan Klesko's 26th home run--and three runs in seven strong innings, striking out four without a walk. He finished with a 4.16 earned-run average and 164 strikeouts in 192 2/3 innings.

Rookie Adam Eaton (7-4) pitched six scoreless innings for the last-place Padres (76-86), and closer Trevor Hoffman worked the final 1 1/3 innings for his 43rd save.

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