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Dodger Notebook : Trevino Is Sitting Pretty This Year

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Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers got a real loser when they traded for Alex Trevino last winter.

That’s no reflection on Trevino’s character or his ability, just his luck.

In 1979, Trevino’s first full season in the big leagues, his team, the New York Mets, lost 99 games. The next season, the Mets lost 95.

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In 1982, Trevino’s second team, the Cincinnati Reds, lost 101 games. Last season, Trevino’s fourth team, the San Francisco Giants, lost 100.

Even when he has won, Trevino has lost. The one time in seven seasons he played on a winner, with Cincinnati in ’81, the Reds had the best overall record in the National League but failed to make the playoffs under the split-season format created by the players’ strike.

OK, so maybe the guy finally caught a break when Dodger Vice President Al Campanis traded Steve Yeager to the Seattle Mariners and gave up on a favorite phenom-that-never-was, Candy Maldonado, to rescue Trevino from the Giants.

Except that Trevino is a catcher. And the Dodgers already have a catcher, Mike Scioscia, who had the year of his life last season. All Scioscia did was play in 141 games, fall four points short of batting .300, finish second in the league in on-base percentage (.407), have career highs in runs batted in (53), home runs (7), doubles (26) and walks (77), lead the Dodgers with a .324 average with runners in scoring position and win acclaim for his defensive play.

So where does that leave the Mexican-born Trevino, at 28 still young enough to entertain thoughts of being somebody’s No. 1 catcher?

On the bench? Obviously. In a deep depression? Hardly.

“What can I do, be a backup for a winner or a loser?” Trevino said here the other day after making a rare start in Scioscia’s place.

“That’s no choice. I’m happy to be here. When you win more games, you have more fun. I don’t think I could catch every day for a losing ballclub.

“Scioscia’s a good catcher. He had a hell of a year. He’s been in the playoffs and the World Series. Don’t tell me I’m in his class.

“But I think I can play coming off the bench. That’s why I’m here.”

When a player has been here, there and everywhere like Trevino has, it’s natural to wonder why.

“It’s tough to judge why you move around so much,” said Trevino, whose older brother, Bobby, played one season (1968) with the Angels.

“I came to the conclusion that, one, I was not an All-Star; two, I was wanted by other teams; three, I stay out of trouble, and, four, I wasn’t making that much money.”

He wasn’t making that much money, that is, until he reached team No. 3--the Braves--and owner Ted Turner signed him to a four-year, $2.15-million contract, a stroke of financial overkill for which Turner is famous. The Braves are believed to be paying half of Trevino’s $562,000 this season.

“When I got over there I did a little bit of everything, and I guess they got excited about it,” said Trevino, who hit in 17 of his first 18 games.

The Braves won the first eight games in which Trevino appeared and 18 of the first 24. But then they faded badly, finishing two games below .500 and 12 games behind the division-winning San Diego Padres.

Joe Torre, who had been Trevino’s first manager in New York when he jumped from Class-A ball to the majors in one year (1978), was fired. And that winter, the Braves traded for another high-priced catcher, Rick Cerone, from the Yankees.

A week into the ’85 season, Trevino was traded to the Giants. Another last-place finish, another fired manager (Jim Davenport), and another miserable summer followed.

Trevino played in only 57 games for the Giants last season and batted just .217, 30 points below his lifetime average. He also made seven errors and committed four passed balls in just 55 games. His sole personal achievement were his six home runs, after he’d hit just five in 1,517 previous major league at-bats.

And the atmosphere in the Giant clubhouse was as foul as a stage-two smog alert.

“To me, Davenport was one of the nicest guys around,” Trevino said. “But all losing clubs have a bad attitude.”

When the season ended, Trevino went in to see new Giant President Al Rosen. “I told Rosen, what am I doing here? You have three right-handed hitting catchers, and I didn’t play that much.”

Rosen didn’t dispute that logic, and last Dec. 11, Trevino became a Dodger. When the Dodgers introduced him to the media in Los Angeles a few days later, Trevino called it his best moment in baseball.

He figures he’ll have a few more moments for the Dodgers this season. Even though Scioscia still is expected to catch upward of 130 games, Trevino believes any team is better off with two reliable catchers.

“Some teams look for Mr. Perfect, a Johnny Bench or a Gary Carter, but there aren’t many around,” Trevino said. “But in a platoon system, you have two guys catching, without killing one guy. Carter and Bench were always complaining about their knees and their backs. More teams are going with two healthy catchers.

“The Dodgers did, with Yeager and Scioscia and before that with Yeager and (Joe) Ferguson.”

Besides a clean bill of health, Trevino believes he has the right attributes to be a good No. 2 catcher.

“I’m not selfish, I’m not a strong individual,” he said. “To me, I’m a team player. I think I do the little things that are good.”

And for once, Trevino hopes those little things add up to being a winner.

Dodger Notes Alex Trevino, who replaced Mike Scioscia late in the Dodgers’ 9-2 loss to Atlanta at West Palm Beach Saturday, walked in his only plate appearance. He is batting .296 (8 for 27) this spring with a home run and two RBIs. . . . Franklin Stubbs’ pinch double accounted for the Dodgers’ only runs. Stubbs, who remained in the game at first base, also had an infield single and is batting .375 (9 for 24). The two runs batted in were his first of the spring; he has yet to hit a home run. . . . Steve Sax sat in on the drums for the last few songs of the Beach Boys’ concert in West Palm Beach, Fla., Friday night. . . . Bob Welch had a rough outing Saturday, allowing 7 hits and walking 4, including one base on balls with the bases loaded, in 5 innings. . . . Carlos Diaz was rocked for five runs in the final two innings, two coming on a home run by Dale Murphy. . . . Billy Sample had three hits and four RBIs for the Braves. . . . Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda turned on the lights at Holman Stadium Saturday for several players--among them Mike Marshall, Mike Scioscia and Pedro Guerrero--to take evening batting practice. One Dodger veteran said Lasorda had requested such a session some time ago as an example for the younger players. . . . The Dodgers face the defending National League champion St. Louis Cardinals here today in a game that will be televised in Los Angeles (10:35 a.m., Channel 11). Rick Honeycutt is scheduled to start for the Dodgers against Rick Ownbey.


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