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Ties to Dominican Republic Still Strong

DODGER REPORT

July 16, 2001|Jason Reid

PITTSBURGH — Some baseball officials thought fallout from the improper signing of third baseman Adrian Beltre might affect the Dodgers' efforts in the Dominican Republic.

But despite sanctions levied by Commissioner Bud Selig in 1999, the Dodgers are still a force in the tiny Caribbean-island nation.

As evidenced by their recent $2.25-million signing of 16-year-old shortstop Irvin Joel Guzman, the Dodgers are determined to retain their standing as one of the majors' most successful clubs there.

"We wanted to reestablish our presence and make an impact," said Ed Creech, the club's top scouting executive.

"We believe we've done that."

How did the Dodgers restore their image and replenish Campo Las Palmas, their baseball academy, seemingly overnight?

Executives from other teams said the rehiring of Ralph Avila and Pablo Peguero, who served one-year suspensions for their major roles in Beltre's case, helped the Dodgers maintain strong ties in the baseball community.

The Dodgers promoted Peguero to director of baseball operations at Campo Las Palmas, and Avila returned as a senior advisor.

Chairman Bob Daly also increased the scouting and signing budgets, but many familiar with the Dodgers' longtime strategy said their personnel is still their key to success in the Dominican Republic.

"With their history and the players they've signed, they're considered one of the two or three best teams in terms of scouting," said agent Rob Plummer, who negotiated Guzman's record-setting deal and others with the Dodgers.

"But the main thing is that they have such a good track record of developing Latin players, and the people they have on their staff are committed to making the experience good for the players. Look at what [longtime official] Luchy Guerra does for them.

"She's like a mother figure to those kids, so I feel comfortable having my players with the Dodgers. Las Palmas is a great facility and Ed Creech and his entire staff is great to work with. They just do a lot of things the right way."

Eric Gagne was recalled from triple-A Las Vegas to start today against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Because of the roster situation, Gagne was sent back to Las Vegas after pitching six scoreless innings in a July 4 no-decision against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.

The right-hander, who had six strikeouts and a walk, was removed with a 3-0 lead in a 4-3 victory.

In four starts for the 51s, Gagne was 3-0 with a 1.52 earned-run average and 31 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings.

*

Texas Ranger left-hander Darren Oliver is on the list of starters the prospect-thin Dodgers might be able to acquire, baseball sources said.

The Rangers, who have had talks with the Dodgers about the seven-year veteran, want to trade Oliver because he has a salary of $5 million this season, $5 million in 2002 and is owed a deferred $6-million signing bonus.

Oliver is 7-5 with a 6.48 ERA in 15 games. The Dodgers are also considering reacquiring starter Pedro Astacio of the Colorado Rockies.

TONIGHT

DODGERS' ERIC GAGNE

(1-4, 5.42 ERA)

vs.

PIRATES' JOE BEIMEL

(4-4, 4.65 ERA)

PNC Park, 4 PDT

TV--Fox Sports Net 2.

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

Update--Gagne does not have a decision in two appearances against the Pirates. Beimel, a 24-year-old rookie left-hander, is starting for the first time against the Dodgers.

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