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DODGERS REPORT

Valdes Drops His Appeal and Begins Suspension

September 13, 2000|JASON REID

PHOENIX — Pitcher Ismael Valdes, sidelined because of an injured right little finger, began serving a six-game suspension Tuesday for intentionally throwing at Mark Grace of the Chicago Cubs.

The commissioner's office Friday suspended and fined the right-hander $1,000 for hitting Grace with a pitch in an Aug. 27 game.

Valdes, who had remained active pending an appeal hearing, decided to accept the punishment because the Dodgers have pitching depth.

"I talked to my agent and [team officials], and we thought it was the right time to do it," said Valdes, scratched from Monday's start because of numbness in his finger. "We want to take precautions to make sure it doesn't become a bigger problem.

"We have a lot of good pitchers here now, so the team is going to be OK. I can take this time to make sure everything is OK with my finger."

Frank Robinson, baseball's vice president of on-field operations, ordered the disciplinary action after reviewing videotapes of the Dodgers' 7-6, 10-inning victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Robinson ruled that Valdes hit Grace on his right shoulder with a pitch in the fifth inning in retaliation for Cub starter Kerry Wood throwing a pitch behind the head of Alex Cora in the top of the inning.

Cora was the first batter to face Wood after Bruce Aven hit a two-run home run against him.

Valdes was warned after throwing his first pitch high and inside to Grace, and then he hit Grace.

Wood, who was not warned after nearly hitting Cora, was suspended three games and also fined $1,000.

Valdes said his finger is improving.

"The treatment I did [Monday] really helped, but we're still not sure when I'm going to be ready," said Valdes, 0-3 with a 6.08 earned-run average since rejoining the Dodgers.

"I'm going to keep getting my treatment and working on it. Hopefully, it won't be too long."

*

Todd Hundley and Darren Dreifort, who can become free agents after the season, might join the Cubs.

The Cubs are expected to aggressively pursue Hundley, whom the Dodgers will not re-sign, and Dreifort, whom the Dodgers are eager to retain.

Manager Don Baylor told the Chicago Tribune that the Cubs covet Dreifort.

"Stuff-wise, for five, six innings," Baylor said, "you're not going to touch him."

*

Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek was not in the lineup Tuesday because of a sprained right thumb. He is listed as day-to-day. . . . Luke Prokopec and Jeff Williams are believed to be the only Australians to have pitched in a game for one team. Williams relieved Prokopec in the fifth inning Tuesday. . . . X-rays taken of Arizona outfielder Steve Finley's left hand were negative. Finley, hit by a pitch by Onan Masaoka, is listed as day-to-day but won't play today. . . . Tom Goodwin has a career-high 13-game hitting streak.

TONIGHT

DODGERS'

KEVIN BROWN

(12-6, 2.72 ERA)

vs.

DIAMONDBACKS'

BRIAN ANDERSON

(10-5, 4.31 ERA)

Bank One Ballpark, 7

TV--Fox Sports Net 2.

Radio--KXTA (1150), KWKW (1330).

* Update--Brown is 1-0 with a 0.53 ERA in two starts against the Diamondbacks this season. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA against Arizona in his career. Anderson has no-decisions in his last three starts.

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