Regan could be Dodgers' go-between after Lasorda

ON BASEBALL

October 15, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

Tom Lasorda is like Jason from Friday the 13th: He survives. Somehow, he always comes back. If the Los Angeles Dodgers hadn't qualified for the postseason, that probably wouldn't be the case. Los Angeles owner Peter O'Malley thought Lasorda deserved a 20th year as manager for his long and relatively good service for the club. Another factor, however, is that the club doesn't have an heir apparent.

A few years ago, ex-Dodgers shortstop Bill Russell was being groomed as Lasorda's replacement, but his luster has faded. Rick Dempsey, the manager at Triple-A Albuquerque, is not considered a candidate. The long-term plan is for former catcher Mike Scioscia, thought to be one of the brightest players in the game when he was with the Dodgers, to be prepared by giving him managerial and coaching experience in the minors.

"We don't replace people as often as other organizations," said O'Malley. "Continuity and stability are important to us. If you're going to replace someone, you should have someone you can believe can do a better job."

Scioscia won't be ready for a few more years, and it's hard to fathom that the Dodgers will stay that much longer with Lasorda, who fell asleep in the dugout on several occasions this year.

So who could manage in the interim? Suppose Phil Regan is let go by the Orioles. He and Dodgers general manager Fred Claire are close, and, at one time, Regan was thought to be in the line of succession behind Lasorda. Regan is a former Dodgers player, a prerequisite in Los Angeles. He used to work in the organization as a scout. He is loyal and believes in functioning as a link in a chain of command, something the Dodgers insist upon.

Regan could replace Lasorda at the end of next season (or during the season, if the Dodgers flounder), and manage for a few years until Scioscia is ready.

Mountain of Rockies bills

* The Rockies, like the Orioles, are committed to major money for next season. Colorado owes $24.4 million to seven players, and that's not including free agents Dante Bichette, Walt Weiss and Bruce Ruffin, all important to the Rockies. Bichette, who turned down a two-year, $8 million offer from the Rockies, may not get the kind of money he wants from Colorado. But then, there won't be many teams dangling that sort of contract this winter.

* Toronto second baseman Roberto Alomar told a friend last month that he wants a contract worth about $5 million per year. If it's so, that's very good news for the Orioles.

* Look for the Boston Red Sox, Orioles and Rockies to wage a bidding war for Alomar and Houston second baseman Craig Biggio.

La Russa & Steinbrenner?

* The New York Yankees have joined the pursuit of Oakland manager Tony La Russa. In some respects, it's hard to see this as a match -- George Steinbrenner giving a long-term contract to a manager is almost a punch line -- but on the other hand, La Russa could effectively run the team, using a direct pipeline to the owner. One of La Russa's coaches thinks the manager will wind up with the Orioles.

* Reds owner Marge Schott became the object of derision last week when she called the poor turnout to the playoffs' "disgusting," and suggested that Reds fans are "spoiled." She grew frustrated after the Game 2 loss at the slow pace of the elevator that would take her down to her car; one writer close by counted as Schott hit the elevator button 27 times.

* When Ken Griffey singled in the last inning of the division series against the Yankees, just before Edgar Martinez hit his game-winning double, at least one witness was surprised.

Reds second baseman Bret Boone, a former teammate of Griffey's, was sure Junior would hit a homer. "He is the greatest player ever to walk this earth, the best to ever put on a uniform. He can do whatever he wants. I sat in the dugout [with Seattle] and heard him not only predict he would hit one out, but which field he would hit it to. And he would do it."

Pirates eye Pa. right-hander

* The Pittsburgh Pirates have the first selection in the amateur draft next year, and the early leader for the first pick is Matt White, a right-handed high school pitcher from Waynesboro, Pa.

* Jeff Juden, traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the San Francisco Giants last week, earlier this year asked manager Jim Fregosi why he was being dropped from the rotation. Said Fregosi: "Because you're the most unprofessional player I've ever seen, you big, fat lazy piece of [garbage]." Just a guess, but this also may have led to the trade, as well.

* Somebody asked Indians GM John Hart whether he liked the idea of a Cleveland-Cincinnati World Series. "I like the idea of the Indians and anyone in the World Series," he replied. "I'd play the Little Sisters of the Poor."

Wear a helmet, Jose

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