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These Guys Prefer October Rewards

June 30, 2002|ROSS NEWHAN

The American and National League All-Star teams will be revealed today, but Eric Karros, the Dodger first baseman, and Tim Salmon, the Angel right fielder, know they will have a three-day vacation coming soon.

They have never been selected for the All-Star game despite distinguished careers. In fact, as any seamhead is probably aware, no active player has hit more home runs than Karros (265 through Friday) and Salmon (259) without making at least one All-Star appearance.

If there were painful All-Star slights when they were younger, they are linked in a different way now: Both, as Karros said, are happy to have rebounded from injury-related poor years, regained respectability and contributed to teams headed, perhaps, for October rewards more satisfying than an All-Star selection.

Salmon agreed, saying, "I've been with this team long enough, and come up short often enough, that at this point in my career I'd rather get to the postseason than be an All-Star. When you're young, the thinking always is that you have a lot of years ahead of you, it'll come. Now there are a lot of young outfielders making names for themselves and are more familiar with the voters. I realize that [an All-Star selection] may not happen, but other things are more important. We're both on teams with good chemistry putting together good years."

There is no disputing the improved chemistry.

On the Dodgers, Gary Sheffield is gone, replaced by a genuine leader in Brian Jordan. Karros credits Chairman Bob Daly and General Manager Dan Evans for the character adjustment, saying of Jordan's role, in particular: "He came as advertised. He could be hitting zero and it wouldn't change that opinion."

Nor, Karros said, are any of the Dodgers star struck, or stuck on stardom. He put it this way: "Shawn Green is our one real star, and he acts as if he's carrying a backpack around a college campus."

Strike Date

Union officials will meet with player representatives from the 30 teams in Chicago on July 8 to discuss a possible strike date, but the spreading opinion among players seems to be that if a date is set at all, it will be set for late September rather than in August, as often speculated because of the August walkout in 1994.

The union believes a strike date beneficial in creating pressure to reach a decision at the bargaining table and providing a weapon if convinced the owners plan to declare an impasse and unilaterally implement new work rules.

However, a September date provides more time for bargaining, allows the players to receive almost their entire salaries for the year and, although permitting the owners to receive almost a full season of attendance, hits them hardest financially because--in the event of a walkout at that point--it would require them to return postseason TV revenue.

Although it is hard to measure numbers, sources say that a reasonably large number of players lean toward setting no strike date, putting the onus on the owners to reach a settlement or face a public relations backlash.

The Appraisal

The baseball jury is still out on Donald Watkins' finances, but he could be doing Disney a favor if he is successful in getting Disney to lower its sale price on the Angels from $250 million to $200 million. At the latter figure, several other prospective buyers might jump in, including, it is believed, Peter Ueberroth.

Oh, Odalis

Raving about Dodger pitching as he left Dodger Stadium Thursday night after his Colorado Rockies had lost three of four games, Manager Clint Hurdle provided the Angels with something of a dire scouting report for their confrontation with Odalis Perez tonight.

"It's kind of a slow death," Hurdle said, his Rockies having been victimized by Perez's second one-hitter of the year. "It's not like he blows you down like Randy Johnson. He comes at you quietly, and before you know it you have no pulse."

The Real Raul

Borrowing the script from his expletive-laced tirade at Davey Johnson and Kevin Malone, when they were all with the Dodgers four years ago, Toronto's Raul Mondesi blasted his manager, Carlos Tosca, and elevated his position on the trading block after he was benched Tuesday and Wednesday for reporting 10 minutes late to a team meeting.

Tosca, who may only be keeping the managerial seat warm for Oakland A's bench coach Ken Macha, insists that the Blue Jays play by his rules or they don't play.

That was too much for Mondesi, who said, "I play too hard in this game every ... day to have this ... happen to me. Now he try to be like too big. He only have two weeks in the big leagues. He never play professional. Why does he have to be like that with an everyday player for no reason. The same ... happened in L.A."

Mondesi began the weekend hitting .221. Pretty ... bad.

Lineup Change?

Interleague play ends today, with attendance up about 16% over the intraleague average, but San Diego Padre General Manager Kevin Towers has a reasonable suggestion that would enable fans to get an even better feel for how the game in the other league is played.

Towers favors a rules change that would reverse the current setup and have the designated hitter employed in interleague games in National League parks but no DH in American League parks.

"That way the fans of each league could really taste a game they're not used to seeing," reasoned Towers.

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