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REPORT

Wallace Helps Out as Red Sox Coach

October 10, 2003|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — The Dodgers did not advance to the playoffs this year, again, but one of their former executives played a vital role in the success of the Boston Red Sox.

Dave Wallace, who started the season as the Dodgers' senior vice president of baseball operations, joined the Red Sox in June, at a trying time. As interim pitching coach, he replaced Tony Cloninger, who had left the team to undergo treatment for bladder cancer. Cloninger has since rejoined the team and his cancer is in remission, although Wallace remains in charge of the pitchers.

"Tony's here and feeling good," Wallace said. "That's the most important thing."

Boston General Manager Theo Epstein commended Wallace, noting that he did not have spring training to familiarize himself with his pitchers.

The Red Sox posted a 4.02 earned-run average after Wallace was hired June 9, including a 3.55 ERA in September, en route to the American League championship series.

"He's been great," Epstein said. "He came in under difficult circumstances. He's been an important factor in our success, as has Tony Cloninger."

Wallace, who lives 35 minutes from Fenway Park, signed a multiyear contract with the Red Sox. Epstein said no decision had been made on what role Wallace would fill next year.

If the Dodgers are sold -- Boston developer Frank McCourt is negotiating to buy the team -- Wallace said he hoped Manager Jim Tracy would retain his job.

"I would endorse Jim Tracy," he said. "He's a straight shooter and a good game manager. He's a good major league manager."

Wallace said he had stayed in touch with many Dodger colleagues, including Tracy, President Bob Graziano and minor league director Bill Bavasi. He did not include General Manager Dan Evans.

"I haven't heard from him since the day I left," Wallace said.

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Boston center fielder Johnny Damon, who suffered a concussion in a head-to-head collision with second baseman Damian Jackson in the division series finale Monday at Oakland, took batting practice Thursday. Damon said he still was having headaches, although they were subsiding, adding that he hoped to play in Game 3 of this series Saturday.

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Wednesday's victory snapped a six-game road losing streak for the Red Sox in league championship series play.

The Red Sox last won a championship series road game in 1986, in a game still cursed in Southern California -- Game 5 at Anaheim Stadium, when Dave Henderson's two-run, two-out, two-strike home run in the ninth inning robbed the Angels of what would have been their first trip to the World Series.

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