Dodger Notebook : Guerrero Gets Ready at His Own Pace, and That Seems to Be OK

Times Staff Writer

The issue has surfaced here before. Pedro Guerrero arrives later than anyone else at training camp. His workouts are shorter than most. He skips road games. At camp, a day's work has consisted of showing up to pinch hit, reaching base and being lifted for a pinch-runner.

So, the question is raised: Does Guerrero receive preferential treatment from the Dodgers?

Manager Tom Lasorda says no.

Guerrero says no.

Enos Cabell says yes, of course Guerrero does, and what's the big deal?

"Pete's the star, and everybody understands that," Cabell said Sunday during the Dodgers' 4-2, 12-inning loss to the Atlanta Braves in which Guerrero went the distance in center field, then stayed afterward to take more fly balls.

"When you're not winning, there may be some resentment, but this is one of the best teams I've ever played on," Cabell said. "It's totally built to win."

It has been suggested in print that a number of Dodgers resent abiding by one schedule while Guerrero follows one of his own making. Cabell scoffs at that notion.

"I think Tommy (Lasorda) handles it really well, and I don't know many guys who really count that are bitching and moaning. If guys like Welchie (Bob Welch) or (Orel) Hershiser were complaining, then something probably would be said.

"But we probably could do without three-quarters of the guys out there. We can't do without the big boy (Guerrero).

"Most of the players probably think it's funny. They know Pete, what he does, how he has his fun. But when the games start, they don't want anybody up there to hit but Pete."

Besides, Cabell said, the star system doesn't exist solely for Guerrero. He's seen it on other teams for which he has played, such as the Houston Astros.

"Nolan (Ryan) always ran his own program," Cabell said. "He'd show up, but then you might not see him no more.

"(Cesar) Cedeno was like that, a lot of players. You never confronted him because he was so valuable to the team. When it was Opening Day, he was there.

"Nolan, Cedeno, Pete, they can carry teams, a (Dave) Parker. Pete's a dominant player. He can carry a team by himself for two weeks.

"Pete's been in the big leagues for a few years, and he's done well. You can't ask more from him than what he's doing. If he did, you wouldn't have enough money to pay him."

If it were up to him, Guerrero said, he'd skip spring training.

"I wish I could stay home and come back on Opening Day," Guerrero said. "I'm serious.

"But if I do that and hit .210, you guys (reporters) would be all over my butt."

Lasorda said Guerrero hasn't played as much this spring because his knees are bothering him. The problem is no different than it has been in the past, according to trainer Bill Buhler. Guerrero is knock-kneed, Buhler said, "and whenever he starts activity, he has to get through the aches and pains. It depends on how much discomfort he can put up with."

Lasorda said Guerrero "is not treated any different than anyone else. He knows how to get himself in shape. When Pete feels like playing, when he says he feels good, then we let him play."

Guerrero was asked if he thought teammates resented his training routine.

"You have to ask them that," he said. "But I don't think anyone worries about me.

"I don't care what anybody says. I just do what I think I'm supposed to do."

Cabell suggested that Guerrero is miscast when the Dodgers try to make a leader out of him.

"I think Pete's growing up," Cabell, 36, said of his teammate, who will be 30 on June 29.

"They want him to lead but he's not a leader. . . . He hasn't matured yet. He'll be a much better player if he matures."

Asked if Guerrero realizes that, Cabell said: "I don't know if he realizes it, or even wants the responsibility of being a leader.

"ThaT's a lot of responsibility, to step forward to do that. Pete never had to do it. He always had guys in front of him, Dusty (Baker), (Steve) Garvey, and he was free to do what he wanted to do.

"In a market like L.A., everything's blown out of proportion. Everything he does is noticed."

Guerrero said he just wants to do what he does best.

"I just need to play and hit, you know," he said.

So far, the hits haven't been coming. He went 0 for 5 Sunday, striking out twice, and has just one hit in 16 at-bats, a .062 average.

"I don't think it's a big deal," he said. "I know you guys say, 'Let's talk to Pete, find out what's up,' 1 for 16. But four hits and I'll be up to .300.

"We're training now. I know I'm going to be ready for the season. It's more important to be ready for the season than anything else."

Dodger Notes

Rick Honeycutt went five shutout innings, allowing five hits, and now has allowed just one run in 12 spring innings. . . . The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead into the eighth, when Atlanta scored twice on new reliever Ed Vande Berg. The left-hander pitched two more scoreless innings before yielding to Tom Niedenfuer, who gave up a tiebreaking double to Ted Simmons. . . . Greg Brock and Steve Sax had two hits each.

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