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DODGER REPORT

Tracy Not Taking It Back; Diamondbacks Annoyed

July 04, 2002|Mike DiGiovanna

PHOENIX — Dodger Manager Jim Tracy admitted he may not have used the best choice of words Tuesday night, but he did not retract his insinuation that Arizona pitcher Rick Helling may have feigned injury to justify hitting Adrian Beltre in the back with a pitch or to avoid a bench-clearing brawl.

Helling sprained his right ankle in an awkward home-plate collision with Brian Jordan in the sixth inning of the Dodgers' 8-0 victory, and his ankle gave out on his next pitch, which drilled Beltre and nearly precipitated a brawl.

"I hope [Helling] did hurt himself," Tracy said after the game. "Not to be nasty or anything, but if he didn't hurt himself on the previous play, then it was unnecessary to hit Adrian Beltre in the back.... If he did turn his ankle, I can see how a ball would get away from him and hit a guy in the back. But we'll see how he is in five days."

The implication that Helling's injury couldn't have been that serious if he makes his next start infuriated Helling, who said, "If [Tracy] thinks I faked an injury to avoid a fight, then he's an idiot."

Asked Wednesday to respond to Helling's comments, Tracy said he would not get into a mud-slinging match with an opponent.

"Maybe the way I worded my answer [wasn't right].... I wasn't wishing someone to be hurt," Tracy said. "All I was saying was that if he wasn't hurt and he hit our guy in the back, I'd take exception to that. I'm not going to respond to what [Helling] said. Everyone has a right to his opinion."

Helling insisted he did not hit Beltre on purpose, that his ankle gave way on the pitch, "and if I had thrown a curve [instead of a fastball] the ball would have ended up in the stands," Helling said.

"I don't know Jim Tracy. I'm just surprised that a guy I've heard to be knowledgeable would insinuate I hit a guy on purpose and faked an injury to get away with it.... My integrity is very important to me, and it bothers me when someone I don't know questions that."

The fact that Helling was shagging balls in the outfield during batting practice Wednesday--and was not in the trainers' room--seemed to confirm the Dodgers' suspicions.

When told of this, Tracy responded with a lengthy blank stare before saying, "I'm not interested in mud-slinging."

Tracy's comments after Tuesday's game surprised many Diamondbacks.

"Up until [Tuesday] I thought that guy did nothing wrong," Arizona pitcher Curt Schilling said. "I have a ton of respect for the guy, and everything he's said and done has been right. I was shocked to read something like that."

Added pitcher Brian Anderson: "I'm sure a lot of it was said in the heat of the moment, because I can't imagine a manager saying he hoped a guy hurt himself."

Tracy had no intention of apologizing to Helling, and Helling felt no need to apologize to Beltre or the Dodgers.

"I don't feel that's necessary," Tracy said. "That was [Tuesday] and today's a new day. We'll move on."

As will the Dodger-Diamondback rivalry, which was heated before Tuesday night's exchange and could grow even more intense.

"I don't know if this makes [the rivalry] any better, because there's enough desire to beat them on their own," Anderson said. "But it certainly makes it more interesting for [reporters] and fans."

*

Mark Grudzielanek, who suffered a mild concussion in an outfield collision with Jordan on Sunday, said he felt good enough to play Wednesday night, but Alex Cora, who turned a splendid double play to preserve a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning of Tuesday night's victory, started at second base again.

Grudzielanek, who is struggling with a .245 average, said he had "no idea" why he wasn't playing and was a little frustrated sitting out a third game. "This is a big series, and you want to be in there in a big game against a big-time team," he said. "That's what you work so hard for."

Tracy wanted to be cautious. "He could play, but I want to wait one more day," he said.

*

Jordan pulled himself out of the game in the seventh inning, suffering from cramps brought on by dehydration.

*

The Dodgers will host their seventh annual 5K Run/Walk on Monday at Dodger Stadium with proceeds benefiting the Dodgers Dream Foundation. Information: (323) 224-1301 or 224-1435.

UP NEXT

Opponent--St. Louis Cardinals, four games.

Site--Busch Stadium, St. Louis.

Today--3 p.m.

TV--Channel 13 today, Fox Sports Net 2 Friday night, Channel 11 Saturday, Channel 13 Sunday.

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

Records--Dodgers 52-32, Cardinals 45-36.

2001 Record vs. Cardinals--3-3.

TONIGHT

DODGERS' KAZUHISA ISHII

(11-4, 3.52 ERA)

vs.

CARDINALS' TRAVIS SMITH

(1-0, 6.75 ERA)

Update--Dodger starting pitchers entered Wednesday night's game with the lowest ERA in the major leagues (3.38). Ishii is coming off Saturday's rocky start against the Angels, when he gave up five runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings of a 7-0 loss.

Friday, 5 p.m.--Odalis Perez (9-4, 2.56) vs. Matt Morris (10-5, 3.27).

Saturday, 1 p.m.--Hideo Nomo (9-5, 3.28) vs. Woody Williams (6-3, 2.39).

Sunday, 11 a.m.--Omar Daal (7-3, 3.39) vs. Bud Smith (0-5, 7.18).

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