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DODGER REPORT

The Skies Won't Be as Family-Friendly This Year

April 12, 2002|Mike DiGiovanna

SAN FRANCISCO — The Dodgers flew from San Francisco to San Diego after beating the Giants on Thursday, 4-3, but unlike most trips in the last decade or two, there were no players' wives or immediate family on the flight.

Concerned that the Dodgers' large traveling parties were becoming a distraction, General Manager Dan Evans, with the blessing of several veteran players, has ended a long-standing team policy that allowed wives, fiancees and immediate family members over 14 to travel on team flights.

The Dodgers have designated three family trips this season, one each in May, June and August.

"I had a meeting with several players in spring training, and we talked about how we could be as focused as possible with the fewest distractions," Evans said. "I don't know if this will translate into wins, but it will help the team focus better. I heard a couple of rumblings [about the decision], but it wasn't that much of an issue."

Few teams allow relatives on charter flights, but the Dodgers, in a tradition started under former owner Peter O'Malley, have been more family-oriented than most.

But traveling parties surged past 80 last September--they're normally around 55--with the team in the midst of a heated division race, and one charter was so full of luggage there wasn't room for the team's equipment, which had to be shipped later.

"It was like, 'Come see America with the Dodgers,'" first baseman Eric Karros said. "It wasn't that [privileges] were abused, but we got into a situation with new owners, new management, where liberties were extended. The bottom line is to focus on the field, and we want to provide an environment everyone is comfortable with."

Reserve catcher Chad Krueter said the change "was a little bit disappointing," but he didn't object to it. "You respect it because that's their policy," he said.

New left fielder Brian Jordan, who spent the last three seasons in Atlanta--which didn't allow relatives on any flights--strongly endorsed the move.

"You wonder why the Braves win so much, and I think some of it comes from chemistry, that togetherness they build over the year," Jordan said. "Come September, you should just focus on baseball. Apparently, it wasn't that way here. It was the family-and-friends program. I'm not against your family meeting you on the road, but the team plane should be the team plane. You shouldn't have to worry about having to watch what you say."

Jordan, who has been part of the intense Brave-Met rivalry, got a taste of the Dodger-Giant rivalry Thursday. It had the distinct flavor of barley and hops.

When Jordan went to the warning track to field Jeff Kent's sacrifice fly in the third inning, a fan in the left-field bleachers doused him with beer.

"And it was the whole cup," Jordan said. "He wasted a, what, $6 cup of beer? I'm hoping security is bopping him on the head right now. But, hey, it's a great rivalry, Dodgers against the Giants. Fans enjoy throwing beer on you. You respect fans who get on you, but throwing beer, that's not the family game of baseball."

Then again ...

"I hope they douse the other team when we go to L.A.," Jordan said.

ON DECK

Opponent--San Diego Padres, three games.

Site--Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego.

Tonight--7.

TV--Channel 13 tonight and Saturday night, ESPN Sunday night.

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

Records--Dodgers 5-4, Padres 4-5.

Record vs. Padres--(2001) 9-10.

TONIGHT'S GAME

DODGERS'

KAZUHISA ISHII

(1-0, 0.00 ERA)

vs.

PADRES'

KEVIN JARVIS

(0-2, 3.00 ERA)

Update--Ishii's major league debut was a smashing success, the Japanese left-hander throwing 52/3 scoreless innings and striking out 10 in a 9-2 win over Colorado last Saturday. But Ishii also sparkled in his first Grapefruit League start before struggling the rest of the spring, so it's important for him to maintain his momentum with a solid effort tonight. The Padres are coming off a three-game sweep of Arizona in which they held the Diamondbacks to three runs and one hit in 20 at-bats with runners in scoring position. San Diego first baseman Phil Nevin, a former Angel, is off to a good start, batting .387 with two homers and six RBIs.

Saturday, 7 p.m.--Kevin Brown (1-1, 5.73) vs. Brian Tollberg (0-2, 3.00).

Sunday, 5 p.m.--Hideo Nomo (1-1, 3.38) vs. Brian Meadows (1-0, 2.45).

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