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DODGERS REPORT

Grudzielanek Not Left Out

April 14, 2001|JASON REID

SAN DIEGO — Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek has a .291 career batting average against left-handers, but batted .250 in 2000.

He has reverted to form this season.

Beginning play Friday, Grudzielanek was hitting .462 (six for 13) against left-handers.

Moreover, Grudzielanek has hit four of his five home runs against lefties. He had only nine homers in his first five-plus seasons.

"I like facing lefties," Grudzielanek said. "Some years I've been really good against them and some I haven't. I can't look at last year and compare anything to it because [the viral infection]. . . . I was just out there trying to help the team. I really wasn't physically ready to be out there.

"But in other years . . . it's just hard to say why there's that difference. Being in a situation where you see them a lot helps. Last year, I don't think I saw enough of them in a period of time to get comfortable. This year, it seems like we've seen lefties like half the time.

"You get a feel for them, and when you don't see them for a long time it makes it hard. It's hard to hit. It's one of those things."

And his power surge?

"It's just trying to drive the ball," Grudzielanek said. "And like I said, I like facing lefties."

*

Manager Jim Tracy gave Grudzielanek a day off Friday, inserting rookie utility player Hiram Bocachica in the starting lineup.

Grudzielanek has struggled in his career against Padre starter Woody Williams, having batted only .105 (two for 19), but the move had more to do with Tracy's desire to use the bench.

"We want to incorporate all of our players," Tracy said.

Tracy plans to do the same with other everyday players in an attempt to keep them strong. Shawn Green, Eric Karros and Gary Sheffield are next on the list.

*

The Dodger bullpen was the best, statistically, in the league last season, and was looking good until Friday night.

Dodger relievers took a 3.21 earned-run average into Friday's game, ranking fourth in the league, and opponents had a .208 batting average.

Setup man Terry Adams has not given up a run in 6 1/3 innings and opponents are batting .174 against him.

Right-handers Mike Fetters and Matt Herges also had been effective, limiting batters to averages of .182 and .192, respectively. But Herges look the loss against the Padres on Friday after closer Jeff Shaw had his save streak end at 18.

Rookie left-hander Jose Nunez has given up three homers and five runs in four innings for an 11.25 ERA, and his role has been reduced at the moment.

"It's not like you're looking around or searching for replacements for any of our links," pitching coach Jim Colborn said. "There are no weak links.

"I suppose if anybody wanted to debate it they'd say, 'Well, you don't have [an effective] left-hander,' but [left-handed pitchers] are just a way to pitch to left-handers. We have [right-handed] guys who pitch OK to lefties."

*

Infielder Dave Hansen, on the disabled list because of broken bones on his left hand, took batting practice under the supervision of hitting instructor Jack Clark.

Tracy said Hansen will work with Clark today and Sunday, and then the club might announce when he will begin a rehabilitation assignment at triple-A Las Vegas.

TONIGHT

DODGERS' ERIC GAGNE

(0-1, 5.73 ERA)

vs.

PADRES' BRIAN TOLLBERG

(1-0, 2.25 ERA)

Qualcomm Stadium, 7

TV--Channel 5. Radio--KXTA (1150), KWKW (1330)

* Update--Gagne gave up eight hits--including two homers--and six runs April 8 in the San Francisco Giants' 8-3 victory at Dodger Stadium. The right-hander was 1-0 with a 3.52 ERA in three starts against the Padres last season. Tollberg pitched eight strong innings April 8 in an 11-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

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