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DODGER REPORT

Sanchez Moves to First Spot on Wish List

July 31, 2001|Jason Reid

The Dodgers, outbid by the Chicago Cubs for reliever Dave Weathers, aggressively refocused their efforts Monday on acquiring Kansas City Royal shortstop Rey Sanchez, baseball officials said.

Interim General Manager Dave Wallace and Dan Evans, his top assistant, resumed talks with the Royals after the Milwaukee Brewers rebuffed their attempts to get Weathers, one of the majors' top short relievers.

The clubs were at an impasse about Sanchez, the No. 1 shortstop on the Dodger list, but it appeared a deal might be completed before today's 1 p.m. PDT nonwaiver trading deadline.

Officials said Evans, the point man in Dodger trade talks, had "substantive" discussions with Royal General Manager Allard Baird after the Dodgers withdrew a request for the Royals to pay some of Sanchez's salary, and the Royals reduced their prospect demands.

The Royals are willing to trade Sanchez to the Dodgers for only minor leaguers, meaning second-year shortstop Alex Cora would not be included in a deal.

Sanchez, who can become a free agent after the season, has a salary of $2.3 million, which escalates to $2.8 million if he is traded.

The nine-year veteran will receive a $100,000 bonus if he plays in 135 games, and another $100,000 if he plays in 145.

Sanchez, batting .303, has played in 100 games. The Royals recently acquired shortstop Neifi Perez from the Colorado Rockies, making Sanchez expendable.

The Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks are also pursuing Sanchez, and the Dodgers are competing with the Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox for Pittsburgh Pirate closer Mike Williams.

Williams is 2-4 with 22 saves and a 3.67 earned-run average in 40 appearances, and has 70 saves in the last three seasons. He is still owed about $500,000 of a $1.2-million salary.

Wallace and Evans envision Williams sharing setup duties with Matt Herges--the job they wanted Weathers to fill.

The National League West leaders have overcome major injuries, and now they believe they can overcome anything.

"If you look at a box score every day, you can find out who had the at-bats, who got the hits and who pitched in the game," Manager Jim Tracy said. "The intangible that this club has, you won't find it in a box score.

"But once it gets entrenched in a clubhouse, it's going to be very difficult to dig it out. In the case of this ballclub, you're not going to dig it out. It's not going to happen."

Players and coaches credit Tracy with creating a winning environment.

"Believe it or not, athletes don't always have their optimum confidence level built in," pitching coach Jim Colborn said. "A lot of times, you have to have confidence in the player first, more confidence in him than he does in himself, and that's what's happening.

"It's something that's unique and not definable that makes people do their best in an environment like this. Jim had a clear image of it, and he's been able to create it."

ON DECK

* Opponent--Cincinnati Reds, three games.

* Site--Dodger Stadium.

* Tonight--7

* TV--Fox Sports Net 2 every game.

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

* Records--Dodgers 61-45, Reds 41-63.

* 2000 Record vs. Reds--2-1.

TONIGHT

DODGERS' ERIC GAGNE

(4-4, 5.31 ERA)

vs.

REDS' JOSE ACEVEDO (2-3, 6.44 ERA)

* Update--Gagne has won his last three starts and has limited opponents to a .237 batting average in July. The Reds, tied for last in the National League Central, have won three in a row.

* Wednesday, 7 p.m.--Terry Adams (7-3, 4.73) vs. Lance Davis (4-1, 5.62).

* Thursday, 7 p.m.--Luke Prokopec (6-5, 4.31) vs. Elmer Dessens (7-8, 4.33).

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