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He Still Has the Pioneer Spirit

August 17, 2003|JASON REID

Dave Stewart says skills can always be sharpened, so the former assistant general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays is moving to bolster his knowledge of baseball administration.

Since January, Stewart has worked with former Dodger official Robert Schweppe, hoping that becoming more familiar with the rules of transactions might improve his chances of becoming a front-office pioneer.

Although Stewart, an African American, is not interested in "being out there as what I would call a usual suspect, just giving teams an opportunity to interview a minority," he said he would still pursue "the right situation," despite his frustration with the sport's lack of minorities in decision-making positions.

Stewart is hitting the books in an effort to help himself and others.

"Robert is a very, very optimistic man, and he felt that there's still a place in baseball, as a general manager, for someone like me, with my values and passion for the game," Stewart said of Schweppe, whose late father, Bill, was the Dodgers' minor league director when Stewart signed with the team out of high school in 1975.

"He's been sending me different things as far as office management is concerned, more from the [rules] side of it, things that I may have been short on when I was working as an assistant [general manager]. It's almost like a correspondence course and he's my teacher."

Not that Stewart, a four-time 20-game winner with the Oakland Athletics, considers himself especially lacking in most aspects of the game.

"I never thought that player evaluation, or for that matter office management, being in the office and managing people, were shortcomings of mine, but I did need more work with rules," said Stewart, who resigned in protest from the Blue Jays in November 2001 after J.P. Ricciardi was appointed general manager. "I can't say that I was the best at that, so that's why I'm working on it now."

Stewart is outspoken about baseball's poor record of minority hiring, which continues despite Commissioner Bud Selig's mandates to improve front-office diversity. Kenny Williams of the White Sox and Omar Minaya of the Montreal Expos are the only minority general managers.

After leaving the Blue Jays, Stewart was a pitching coach with Milwaukee in 2002, served as a consultant to teams and assisted players in negotiating their first professional contracts. Stewart has had many jobs in the game he loves, but he's still awaiting a shot at the one he covets most.


Maybe you can go home again.

Kevin Appier is off to a good start in his second stint with Kansas City, where he began his major league career in 1989.

In two starts since signing with the Royals -- after the Angels released the right-hander, owing him $15.67 million -- Appier has given up two earned runs in 11 innings.

He turned back the clock Wednesday in his return to Kauffman Stadium, pitching six scoreless innings in an 11-0 victory over the New York Yankees. Appier gave up three hits and earned a standing ovation while helping the American League Central leaders.

"Coming back here and being able to help these guys in the pennant race feels really good," said Appier, whom the Angels owe $12 million in 2004. "It was an incredibly generous ovation. I definitely appreciated it."


How ugly is the Juan Gonzalez situation?

The Texas Rangers apparently are at their wits' end with the two-time AL most valuable player, who has at least twice invoked his no-trade clause, blocking the club's efforts to move him.

Gonzalez fired two agents in six weeks after they encouraged him to accept a trade. He has been on the disabled list since July 19 because of a strained calf muscle that "has taken a lot longer [to heal] than we expected," General Manager John Hart said.

Gonzalez is recovering so slowly that the Rangers had him undergo MRI exams on both calves. Some in the organization believe he does not want to play again this season, and hopes the club will tell him to go home.

To hear the Rangers tell it, Gonzalez shouldn't hold his breath.


As Dodger fans can attest, Raul Mondesi is experienced at blasting team officials.

Mondesi, recently traded by the Yankees to Arizona, took a shot at Yankee Manager Joe Torre, saying Torre discriminated against players from the Dominican Republic.

Yankee All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano, also a native of the tiny Caribbean nation, disagreed with his countryman.

"He's like my father," Soriano said of Torre, who has guided the Yankees to four World Series titles. "I don't know why somebody would say that about him.

"I think he's a very good manager, and very important for me too."

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