In These Stories, Future Is Now for 1991 Angels and Dodgers : Stubbs Is at First, Smith at Catcher and, at Manager, Yes, Pass the Pasta

Times Staff Writer

It is 1991. Pedro Guerrero, the first player-owner in major league history, announces that he intends to play third base for his club, the San Pedro de Macoris Sugar Kings.

"My jewelry slowed me down too much in the outfield," Guerrero says. "At third, a Gold Glove would go nice with my collection of necklaces."

Orel Hershiser IV, the nation's foremost labor negotiator, wins a $1,500-a-week raise for the United Auto Workers, bringing that union in line with the scale he had established as a pitcher five years earlier.

Mike Scioscia, the entrepreneur who marketed the first successful fast-food linguine chain, 'Sorda's, says he will return to baseball, not as a player but as "Caterer to the pros," promising fresh garlic bread in every clubhouse spread.

Fernando Valenzuela, whose "Stay in School" program led to his appointment as secretary of education, says he plans to challenge Steve Garvey in next fall's Senate elections. Valenzuela's campaign manager, Tony DeMarco, says Valenzuela will adopt Cheech and Chong's "Born in East L.A." as the theme of his campaign.

Impressionist Steve Sax is opening for Billy Crystal at Caesars Palace. Mike Marshall is playing tight end for the Chicago Bears. Bill Madlock, designated hitter for the New York Yankees, says he'll play until he gets 5,000 hits or Pete Rose retires, whichever comes first.

Ken Landreaux owns the biggest archery concession in Big Bear Lake. Jerry Reuss plays a surfer-turned-detective on NBC's "No One Shoots This J.R." Golfer Rick Honeycutt is 14th on the list of the PGA's leading money winners after winning the Doral Open.

Al Campanis is basking in the sun on the Greek island of Skorpios, where he retired after Kevin O'Malley, the teen-aged son of Dodger owner Peter O'Malley, was named general manager. Campanis writes to say that he has found a prospect who combines the strength of Hercules, the speed of Hermes and the batting eye of Ted Williams. "A kid like this comes around in a scout's eyes about once every 25 years," he writes.

And 63-year-old Tom Lasorda, entering his 15th season as Dodger manager, is predicting another pennant for his ballclub, even though Mariano Duncan is the only player remaining from the 1985 Western Division champions.

"Me and my coaches will keep the lights on at Holman Stadium every night if we have to, but these kids will learn how to win," Lasorda says.

Since it is three weeks before the start of the 1991 season, Lasorda refuses to disclose his opening-day lineup. "Why don't you come to the ballpark that day and you'll see," he says.

But The Times has learned, through an exclusive interview with scouting director Ben Wade five years earlier, just who might be the starting nine when pitcher-astronaut Bob Welch throws out the first ball.

The Dodgers of 1991:

1B--Franklin Stubbs

2B--Mike Watters or Manny Francois

SS--Mariano Duncan

3B--Jeff Hamilton

LF--Chris Gwynn

CF--Jose Gonzalez

RF--Mike Devereaux

C--Dan Smith

P--Greg Mayberry

"Let's start with the kid at third base, Hamilton," Wade said on a spring afternoon in '86. "He and Gonzalez are two of our better young players.

"This kid's got a chance to do it all--hit, hit with power, good arm, runs all right. And he's only 22 years old. You've got to like him."

Hamilton hit .332 with 13 home runs, 59 runs batted in and a .488 slugging percentage. In one week in July, Hamilton had 14 hits in 22 at-bats.

"The shortstop is the same kid, Duncan, we've got out there right now," Wade said. "He could be a superstar by then."

Wade was undecided at second base, where the Dodgers have a choice between Mike Watters, an outfielder at Michigan before becoming another in the Dodgers' legion of players who have been converted to another position, and Francois, who with Duncan would give the Dodgers an All-San Pedro de Macoris double-play combination.

"Watters was the kid who was voted the most improved player in the instructional league," Wade said. "He had bone chips removed from his elbow this spring, but he has great potential."

The first baseman, Wade said, would have to be Stubbs. By 1991, Greg Brock will be 34, Stubbs just 30. Wade didn't address the question of what Stubbs will do in the meantime, however.

It's when you get to the outfield that Wade really gets excited. "Oh, God, we've got a flock of 'em out there," he says.

Start with the center fielder, Gonzalez, who, in potential at least, Dodger batting coach Manny Mota likens to Roberto Clemente. Mota played with Clemente for six years in Pittsburgh.

"There's also Reggie Williams in center, but he won't be the player Gonzalez has a chance to be," Wade said.

Gonzalez will be only 26 in 1991.

But whereas Campanis, in particular, extols the virtues of Gonzalez, Wade builds a strong case for Devereaux, who was selected the No. 1 major league prospect in the Pioneer Rookie League last season, his first in professional baseball.

Devereaux, drafted out of Arizona State last June by the Dodgers, led the league in runs scored with 73, hits with 103, total bases with 152, runs batted in with 67 and stolen bases with 40, all in just 70 games. He finished the season with a .356 average.

"This kid's got a chance to be a good hitter, and with some power," Wade said. "And he runs a 6.2 60 (yard dash). He ran track at Arizona State."

Chris Gwynn, the left fielder of the future, has a distinguished pedigree. Older brother Tony, the right fielder for the San Diego Padres, won a National League batting title with a .351 average in 1984.

Like Tony, Chris was drafted out of San Diego State.

"Chris has a chance to be a hitter like his brother," Wade said. "He's built a lot like his brother, and is a better runner.

"Chris was a better hitter in college than his brother was--it would be great if that carried over."

Wade's choice for catcher, Dan Smith, is a bit of a surprise, since the Dodgers have been grooming Gilberto Reyes for years. Asked if Reyes had not lived up to expectations, Wade said:

"If he had, we would never have gotten (Alex) Trevino and Reyes would have been our second catcher this season (1986). He's played two years in triple-A, and usually that's enough for a catcher to get ready."

Reyes' work habits have been suspect, but Wade said he noticed a difference this spring. "It's quite a bit better than last year," Wade said. "He seems a lot more interested in playing."

Nonetheless, Wade selected Smith, an All-Ohio Valley Conference star at Morehead State in Kentucky before the Dodgers drafted him.

"He's got a real good arm and is a real good defensive catcher," Wade said. "And he's got a chance to hit."

The Dodgers, pitching rich for the better part of two decades, may have to make pitchers a priority again in the draft, Wade said. Two pitchers who were No. 1 picks, Eric Sonberg in 1983 and Dennis Livingston in 1984, have not panned out. Sonberg has had arm surgery and may never pitch again, Wade said. Livingston has bounced around in the low minors.

But Wade likes Greg Mayberry, a 20-year-old right-hander who was voted most valuable player in the Florida State League after posting an 11-4 record with 97 strikeouts in 118 innings. That got him a promotion to Albuquerque, where he was 2-4 with a 4.39 earned-run average. His 90-m.p.h. fastball may earn him a promotion to triple-A Albuquerque this spring.

Wade also likes Rod Roche, a first baseman-shortstop from St. Mary's (Calif.) College, who showed up at a Dodger tryout camp in Culver City and was signed as a pitcher. The Dodgers noticed Roche's size--6-4 and 210 pounds. They also noticed his fastball--90-plus.

"We have enough potential here that if one or two guys come through, we may have a good ballclub for a long time to come," Wade said that day in '86. "We don't have an old guy on this club except for the guy at third base (Madlock), and he just might lead the league in hitting."

Now it's 1991, time for the kids to prove they're all right.

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