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DODGER REPORT

Today's Decision Day for McGriff

August 19, 2003|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

Fred McGriff, out since July 4 because of injuries to his left groin and right knee, will be evaluated by Dodger team physicians today. If he is cleared to play, he probably will be activated for tonight's game against the Expos.

If McGriff is not activated, the Dodgers will make a roster move to replace an extra pitcher (probably Scott Mullen) with a position player. Among the recall candidates are Chin-Feng Chen (.281, 20 homers, 75 runs batted in), Chad Hermansen (.308, eight homers, 27 RBIs), Larry Barnes (.274, 13 homers, 54 RBIs) and Wilkin Ruan (.309).

When McGriff does return, Manager Jim Tracy will have to decide whether McGriff or Robin Ventura, acquired on July 31 from the New York Yankees, will get the bulk of playing time at first base.

Both bat left-handed, and when sound, McGriff has more power, but McGriff has been out for almost two months and could be rusty. Ventura, a converted third baseman, is superior defensively at first, as he showed over the weekend. With a team that relies on pitching and defense, a higher premium could be placed on Ventura's glove.

Ventura's heads-up play Friday nearly turned Kenny Lofton's bunt with a runner on first into a double play. Lofton popped the bunt up toward the line. Instead of catching it in the air, Ventura let it drop. The ball was foul, but Tracy thought Ventura made the right play.

Ventura, however, is hitting .245 with two homers and four RBIs since the deal and is 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

"I knew Robin was a good first baseman -- the instincts he showed on that play Friday were incredible," General Manager Dan Evans said. "His defense is one of the things Jim will have to factor in when he makes his decisions."

*

Closer Eric Gagne ran his scoreless streak to 21 innings, the longest by a Dodger pitcher this season, with Sunday's save against the Cubs, his 41st save in 41 opportunities. During the streak, which covers 18 appearances, Gagne has 12 saves.

Set-up man Guillermo Mota also has an impressive 16 2/3-inning scoreless streak going, in which he has allowed eight hits and struck out 19.

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ON DECK

Opponent -- Montreal Expos, three games.

Site -- Dodger Stadium.

TV -- Fox Sports Net 2 all three games.

Radio -- KFWB (980), KWKW (1330).

Records -- Dodgers 64-59, Expos 65-60.

Record vs. Expos -- 2-1.

Tonight, 7 -- Kevin Brown (12-6, 2.28) vs. T.J. Tucker (0-1, 5.16).

Wednesday, 7 p.m. -- Wilson Alvarez (2-1, 2.72) vs. Livan Hernandez (13-7, 3.08).

Thursday, noon -- Odalis Perez (9-9, 4.51) vs. Zach Day (7-4, 3.41).

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