No dodging shake-up in Los Angeles

On Baseball

August 23, 1998|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been in almost constant turmoil since the club was acquired by Fox Sports earlier this year, and that doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.

The lackluster performance of the club over the past couple of weeks has almost assured that the organization will undergo another management shake-up at the end of the season.

Interim manager Glenn Hoffman likely will be replaced, and interim general manager Tom Lasorda is at work trying to replace himself.

Lasorda said Friday he will interview Florida Marlins general manager Dave Dombrowski for the GM job, lending belated credence to rumors earlier this year that both Dombrowski and Marlins manager Jim Leyland could uproot to Los Angeles at the end of the year.

It didn't have to be that way. If the Dodgers ever succeeded in living up to their talent and potential, both Lasorda and Hoffman might have been given the chance to stay in place permanently, but the club recently lost 10 of 14 games to fall out of realistic wild-card contention.

Everyone in the organization is understandably disappointed, but Hoffman has the most at stake. Lasorda is a Hall of Famer who works because he wants to. Hoffman was in position to take advantage of the unexpected chance of a lifetime when he replaced Bill Russell and became only the fourth Dodgers manager in 45 years, but it hasn't panned out.

"He's down, you can see that," Lasorda said. "But the manager can only do so much. It's the players who are on the field. What Glenn has done is make the players more proud about the name on the front of the uniform instead of the back. That is important."

Such an opportunity may not come along again for Hoffman, who is expected to be reassigned to a high-ranking job in the club's player development department in November.

"What happens after the season honestly is not my concern," Hoffman told reporters. "I take what is happening personally. But there are five weeks left, and I truly think we can turn it around."

Eckersley undecided

Boston pitcher Dennis Eckersley needs four victories and 10 saves to reach 200 and 400, respectively, but he has been leaving hints that he won't be returning for a 25th season next year.

"I don't have to decide that yet," Eckersley, 43, told reporters recently. "It's not like I'm going to have this great big press conference [to announce his retirement]. I just need to finish this year, then go think about it."

The 1998 season has been a major disappointment. He returned to Boston only to be angled out of the full-time closer job by Tom Gordon. Now, in a sometime setup role, he has to wonder if it's worth it to hang around just to reach some more career milestones.

"I don't think it's going to make any difference if I don't win 200 games, if I don't save 400 games," Eckersley said.

He might be a lot closer if not for a shoulder problem that forced him onto the disabled list for seven weeks, but that injury may have convinced him that he is capable of walking away from a profession that has consumed his entire adult life.

"I guess it was meant to be," he said. "A lot of good came out of that [time on the DL]. It gave me a chance to look at where I was, where I've been. These things that have happened this year have happened for a reason.

"Life after baseball is not so bad. I think there was a little fear there of what's to come. Being home during a month of the season gives you an idea of what it's going to be like. It was kind of nice. I was more afraid of it. But you can't deny it. I think while you're playing, you're denying it because there's a task at hand to get prepared for. But it's not so bad."

Not just happy to be here

Chicago White Sox first baseman Wil Cordero apparently is no longer overcome with gratitude that the club took a chance on him after a spousal abuse conviction nearly ended his baseball career.

He's not happy that the White Sox have decided to platoon him at first base and said recently that he wants out of Chicago if he isn't going to be an everyday player.

"I've been in the league 5 1/2 years and I've never been platooned," he said. "I'm not going to accept it next year. I won't do it. If I'm going to platoon, it's not going to be here. It's that simple."

Well, it's not that simple. There are a lot of teams that won't be willing to take the public relations risk of signing a guy with his ugly past, so he ought to rethink his position and remember that manager Jerry Manuel was the guy who put his reputation on the line to give Cordero the chance to reclaim his career.

Not-so-great expectations

The Arizona Diamondbacks have the second-worst record in the major leagues -- ahead of only the downsized Florida Marlins -- but their season doesn't look that bad in historical perspective.

They had 47 victories through 125 games, which is only five wins shy of the best 125-game record by an expansion team, 52 wins by the Los Angeles Angels in 1961.

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