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Down The Line

July 23, 2006|Tim Brown

Three Days in ...L.A.

The division has waited around through all of the Dodgers' little dramas, and they're still in the race despite more than three months of playing mediocre ball and looking less like a contender by the minute.

The Dodgers are ahead of last year's pace by a few wins, but the arcs of the two seasons are beginning to match up, wins and losses scattered amid rumors of which single player is going to come solidify the pitching staff and, apparently, hit some home runs.

The Padres' season lacks direction as well, their few decent runs generally undone as Jake Peavy continues to underperform.

Indeed, the Dodgers and Padres might find themselves competing for the same pitcher this week: Greg Maddux.

He has won twice and lost 11 times since his 5-0 April, some of which can be laid on an offense that was dreadful without Derrek Lee. What can't be: his 5.74 ERA since. He also has pitched better at Wrigley Field than on the road, suggesting he wouldn't necessarily be better at Dodger Stadium or Petco Park.

Maddux, who will be a free agent after the season, likes Chicago and has a full no-trade clause, but would consider joining the Dodgers or Padres. He lives in Las Vegas and prefers the West.

The probables:

Monday -- Mike Thompson vs. Derek Lowe; Tuesday -- Chan Ho Park vs. Mark Hendrickson; Wednesday -- Peavy vs. Brad Penny.

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New York, New Work

The Yankees believe they've taken the Red Sox's best shot and endured, despite extended absences by Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield and now Robinson Cano.

Though all three are expected to return (Cano first, then Matsui and Sheffield), the Yankees -- along with the Tigers and White Sox -- remain among strong contenders to acquire Alfonso Soriano. The Mariners also have an interest, but the asking price and the reality of their recent poor play probably knocks them out of the bidding, and the Angels appear content to wait for Soriano to hit the free-agent market.

As usual, with the trading deadline approaching, the Yankees are in on everything, as they will be if Carlos Lee comes free over the next few days.

"No one's saying we're the team to beat," General Manager Brian Cashman said. "We're just saying, respectfully, don't count us out."

Foremost, Cashman would like to add a starting pitcher, and is taking every phone call.

"I can't predict," he said. "But I like our team. I like the fight our team has.... And we haven't had our run yet."

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The Game of Baseball, Heal Thyself

George Mitchell's investigation has not yet included active players. When it does, the union is advising its members to have two lawyers present -- a personal attorney and another appointed by the union. Team employees, meanwhile, are forbidden to employ personal lawyers, meaning the investigation isn't as independent as we were led to believe.... Dmitri Young, once a pretty good player and still only 32, returned to the Tigers on Friday after two rehabilitation assignments, the first at a Malibu drug and alcohol addiction center and the second in the minor leagues. "It's something I have to deal with for the rest of my life," the product of Rio Mesa High in Oxnard told reporters in Detroit. "I need to be a great father, great friend, the stand-up person I always wanted to be."

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One More Thing From ... Shea Hillenbrand

Letting reporters know just where they stand in his personal hierarchy, after a week that began with the adoption of a child, then wound through an uncomfortable team meeting, a near fight with his manager and a trade to the Giants:

"Not one person from the front office has even come up to congratulate me" on the adoption. "It's all the little people, like you guys. But nobody from higher up. That's a disgrace."

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-- Tim Brown

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