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DODGER-ANGEL REPORT

Evans' Office Isn't a Panic Room Yet

June 29, 2003|Jason Reid, Bill Shaikin and Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writers

Dodger General Manager Dan Evans isn't one to panic, so don't expect an in-season overhaul of the roster.

Not that Evans could revamp the team even if he wanted to at this point, considering the Dodgers' payroll constraints and prospect limitations, it's just that he doesn't believe drastic moves are necessary.

Although the Dodgers are last in the National League in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, walks, home runs, runs, runs batted in and total bases, Evans was upbeat about another statistic: victories.

The Dodgers are in contention for the NL West title despite their deficiencies on offense, which Evans said shouldn't be lost in the shuffle. Evans and his staff are trying to acquire a middle-of-the-order hitter, and he's still confident the current group will produce more in the second half.

Worries? What worries?

"There's no panic here, and there's no reason to panic," Evans said. "You panic when you're desperate and you're not good enough, and that's not the case with us. Have we been as consistent [at the plate] as we would like to be, as we believe we're capable of being? No, we haven't.

"But we believe we're going to improve, whether it occurs externally or internally. It's not like we're asking everyone to have career years, or do things they've never done before. We're just looking for guys to produce to the levels they have in their careers. And we're only two games out [of first place], so there's definitely no panic."

However, with Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Angels, the Dodgers are three games behind San Francisco, and players now privately acknowledge the team needs need outside help.

Many in the organization said left fielder Brian Jordan is resigned to undergoing season-ending knee surgery soon, increasing the pressure on Evans to acquire another run-producing hitter.

Evans won't feed into the fear.

"Our job is to make sure in-season decisions are not made on an emotional basis, because these decisions can come back to haunt you," he said. "But it's not like we're sitting back and doing nothing.

"We work 12 to 15 hours a day to try to get into the postseason, and we're very proactive [on the trade front]. Our goal is to get into the postseason and win the World Series, but our decisions are not based on what happened the night before."

And it's not even July, Evans said, so the Dodgers still have time on their side.

"It's the sum of 162 games, not one week in June," he said. "You don't win a trophy for having the best record in June."

*

Although the situation might drag out for weeks, Jordan is expected to undergo more surgery on his strained left patella tendon, team sources said.

Jordan, angered by an erroneous radio report that he had already decided to have "career-ending" surgery, maintains he has not made a decision. However, others said it's only a matter of time before he must have another procedure on the knee.

"Nothing has really changed," said Jordan, who underwent knee surgery in October. "It's still day to day, so we'll give it some time and see."

*

Angel ace Jarrod Washburn, who has lost four consecutive starts, has been hampered by a sore hip.

Washburn was reluctant to discuss the condition but said the hip "just sort of gradually got worse" over the last few weeks. He has received daily treatment, he said, and the worst appears to be past.

Although Angel closer Troy Percival was diagnosed last month with degenerative changes in his hip, Washburn said he has not been sent for any tests, and Manager Mike Scioscia said the condition is neither comparable nor serious.

After Washburn blew a 4-0 lead in his last start and failed to survive the sixth inning for the third consecutive start, he identified his flaw as "throwing the ball over the middle of the plate too many times."

The Angels are monitoring him to make sure he does not subconsciously change his delivery to compensate for discomfort in the hip, which could affect his command and turn a minor injury into a major one.

"We would be worried about risking serious injury if he's compensating," Scioscia said. "We don't see that."

Washburn completed his between-starts workout Saturday and is expected to start as scheduled Tuesday.

*

Scioscia returned David Eckstein to the leadoff spot after four games in which he batted ninth. Eckstein hit .538 (seven for 13) in the four games, raising his average from .231 to .245.

*

Shortstop Brandon Wood, the Angels' first-round draft pick, spent the day at Edison Field. In an afternoon workout watched by Scioscia, General Manager Bill Stoneman and owner Arte Moreno, Wood was tutored by infield coach Alfredo Griffin and hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. Moreno then invited Wood, his parents and his sister into the owner's suite to watch the game.

Wood, 18, who signed for a $1.3-million bonus, is playing for the Angels' rookie league affiliate in Mesa, Ariz.

*

Although first baseman Fred McGriff (strained right groin) can be activated from the disabled list today, he said he might need a little more time. The Dodgers are off Monday and begin a three-game series Tuesday against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. "It's 50-50 for Sunday," the 17-year veteran said after Saturday's loss. "I'm feeling better, but Tuesday might be better."

*

As expected, Andy Ashby has been re-inserted into the Dodger rotation to start Wednesday against the Padres. Ashby has pitched well in his last two outings.

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Dodger right fielder Shawn Green will be among those honored tonight at an awards dinner and fund-raiser for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Proceeds from a silent auction before the dinner, at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, will benefit the medical center's Sports Spectacular Endowed Medical Genetics Birth Defects Center.

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