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DODGER REPORT

Grissom, Roberts Are Doing Their Share

June 11, 2002|Mike DiGiovanna

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Dave Roberts would like to start against a left-handed pitcher, and Marquis Grissom wouldn't mind a little more playing time, but Manager Jim Tracy is not about to disrupt his center-field platoon when it's producing like it is.

Grissom hit a two-run home run in the second inning Monday night to jump-start a 14-hit attack, as the Dodgers whipped the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 10-5, in an interleague game played before 10,905 in Tropicana Field.

Shawn Green's three-run home run, his 15th of the season, highlighted a five-run fifth, Paul Lo Duca had an RBI triple in the sixth and an RBI double in the eighth, and No. 9 batter Hiram Bocachica had a double, single and two runs batted in to help the Dodgers move within a game of first-place Arizona in the National League West.

Right-hander Hideo Nomo, showing better life on his fastball and better control, gave up three runs and six hits in six innings to win for the fourth time in five starts and improve to 6-5.

Roberts has been a spark plug at the top of the order, hitting .320 with a .401 on-base percentage, and Grissom has provided power in the middle, ranking third on the team with eight home runs.

Together, Roberts and Grissom have produced a center-field position that is batting .309 with nine home runs, 36 runs batted in, 43 runs, 16 stolen bases and a .373 on-base percentage.

Last season, Dodger center fielders, primarily Grissom and Tom Goodwin, combined to hit .236 with 19 homers, 70 RBIs, 93 runs, 27 stolen bases and a .282 on-base percentage.

"The opportunity to use both guys and build an environment for both to have optimum success is the way to go," Tracy said of Roberts and Grissom. "Both are shining, and we sacrifice nothing defensively in center field.

"They bring different things to the lineup--Roberts is an energy guy at the top of the order, and Grissom is a home-run threat in the middle--and we still have a good leadoff hitter in Cesar Izturis from the right side [when Grissom starts]."

Grissom, 35, was bitter about being a platoon player last season, but he came to spring training this season with a different attitude.

"A lot of it came from Sept. 11," Grissom said. "I hate to say it, but it woke me up. It was 50% Sept. 11 and 50% myself--how I felt as a father, a husband, a son.... I found an inner peace to be successful in life, so baseball is maybe third or fourth or fifth on the list [of priorities] behind my family, my kids. That made it a bit easier to accept."

TODAY

DODGERS'

OMAR DAAL

(4-2, 2.72 ERA)

vs.

DEVIL RAYS'

JOE KENNEDY

(3-5, 4.42 ERA)

Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla., 4:15 p.m.

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

Update--Daal, who requested a trade when he was demoted to the bullpen in late March, has replaced the injured Kevin Brown in the rotation, and now he wants to stay. "If I'm a starter, why would I want to be traded?" he said. "It would make no sense." The Dodgers, who have hit 28 home runs in the last 17 games and are averaging 6.3 runs in their last 23 games, are 14-3 against left-handed starters, and they'll face another one tonight in Kennedy.

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