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DODGER REPORT

Sheffield Settled but Still May Be in Limbo

March 15, 2001|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VERO BEACH, Fla. — Now that Dodger left fielder Gary Sheffield has apologized to Chairman Bob Daly, teammates and fans for his conduct, Scott Boras, Sheffield's new agent, said Wednesday that the player has regained his focus.

"Everyone agreed that getting Gary settled again, to play baseball in Los Angeles, was the first step," Boras said in a phone interview. "There were things Gary needed to say, and that's what he did."

But will it be enough?

Derrick Hall, senior vice president, said the Dodgers are doing damage assessment, and their findings might help determine whether Sheffield stays.

Boras acknowledged fans won't forgive his new client overnight.

"Fans have inherent rights, and those rights are to protect and root for their particular team," Boras said.

"This process is a result of conduct that fans are certainly questioning, and have a reaction to. It's important that Gary Sheffield came in here and reviewed his last couple of emotional months and, without any excuses, apologized. The intent is there.

"After a review of what occurred, he values the relationship he has with his teammates, with the city and the fans, and I know in our discussions it was brought to light what the focus of players has to be. When we examine Gary Sheffield as a Dodger, we're going to say he performed at a very high level, without incident. As a player, his contractual obligations, he's fulfilled them to the highest level.

"It is his conduct off the field that has . . . and again, based upon a lot of misinformation that was coming his way. But Gary has reviewed this, he's evaluated this, and he has felt it appropriate to make an apology to the fans. It's very clear Gary is hoping he can return to a place he once had in Dodgers fans minds and hearts, and certainly that of his teammates and the organization."

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Right-hander Ramon Martinez believes he will be in the rotation.

"So far, everything is fine," the 12-year veteran said. "I'm starting to feel I'm getting my rhythm, getting everything straightened out."

Martinez--0-2 with a 6.00 earned-run average--supposedly is competing with left-hander Carlos Perez and young right-handers Eric Gagne and Luke Prokopec for the fifth spot.

But many in the organization believe Martinez, in his second stint with the club, will be in the season-opening rotation.

The Dodgers are not worried about Martinez's performance, but they are monitoring the 135-game winner's pitching shoulder.

He had surgery in 1998 and struggled with the Boston Red Sox last season, having gone 10-8 with a 6.13 ERA in 127 2/3 innings.

"Physically, I'm fine," Martinez said. "Last year, I was inconsistent coming back from surgery.

"This year, I'm going to be more consistent. I'm right on target."

*

Right fielder Shawn Green, sidelined because of a sprained right thumb, hopes to return "sometime next week."

Green said rubber bands and silly putty have helped.

"Ice, heat and play with rubber bands and silly putty," said Green. "That's my spring training."

*

Left-hander Jesse Orosco had another strong performance in an 8-5 victory over the Houston Astros at Kissimmee.

Orosco struck out left-handed batter Daryle Ward in the seventh.

Orosco, 43, has seven strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings.

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Chan Ho Park (1-0) gave up six hits and four runs--two earned--with seven strikeouts and a walk. . . . Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek had two hits and three runs batted in. . . . Catcher Chad Kreuter had two hits and three runs. . . . Jose Nunez pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.

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