Nobody panics in April . . . do they?
At least 10 San Diego Padres arrived at Dodger Stadium early on Thursday to take extra hitting practice. Tony Gwynn, the 1984 batting champion, was one of them, and he was saying: “Well, I’m not panicking, but I wanted to convince myself I still knew what I was doing.”
Meanwhile, the Dodgers were signing Cesar Cedeno for some extra punch. And it was Tom Lasorda himself who served as Cedeno’s batting practice punching bag. Cedeno kept hitting balls out of the park.
“The last guy to hit my curve ball like that was Stan Musical (sic) or whatever his name is!” the Dodger manager said.
Thursday night’s final score: 3-2, Padres.
Another pitcher’s duel, nonetheless.
Now, speaking of duels, how about Tom Lasorda vs. Steve Sax. Obviously, there was a miscommunication. The Dodgers had a chance to get even in the ninth inning when Sax singled off Goose Gossage with one out.
But he tried stealing second.
Terry Kennedy threw him out.
Naturally, the next batter, Dave Anderson, singled, which magnified it all.
“I just blew it, that’s all,” Sax said. “I went on my own. My fault.”
Lasorda, elsewhere in the clubhouse, asked: “Who said he (Sax) was running on his own?”
Someone told him Sax had said it.
And would Lasorda have wanted him running on his own?
“No,” he said.
Did he tell that to Sax in the dugout?
“No,” he said.
There was practically no offense in this series, which ended in a 2-2 split. The Padres scored just two runs before Thursday and wound up leaving 30 men on base. The teams scored only five runs apiece in the series.
“I think people expected well-pitched games from the Dodgers,” Padre Manager Steve Boros said. “But I think we surprised people with our staff. I mean, I wasn’t surprised, but I bet you others were. Our staff’s a well-kept secret.”
Padre pitchers hit, too.
Starter and winner Mark Thurmond had two singles, including a second-inning RBI single that made the score 2-0. That made it five hits in four games by Padre pitchers.
San Diego’s first run also came in the second inning, when Carmelo Martinez homered off Dodger starter Rick Honeycutt (0-1). The ball twisted just inside the left-field foul pole. Honeycutt lasted 4 innings before leaving with a left thigh bruise.
He injured it when he bumped into plate umpire Joe West. Honeycutt was backing up first base after a fly ball to right, and West just got in his way.
Lasorda, afterward, couldn’t remember the last time a pitcher had run into an umpire.
San Diego raised its lead to 3-0 in the fifth inning. Kevin McReynolds singled off Honeycutt, who then ran into West, and left after walking Martinez. Carlos Diaz replaced Honeycutt, and Terry Kennedy promptly singled home McReynolds.
The Dodgers made it 3-2 that very inning. Dave Anderson singled to right and scored on Bill Russell’s double to left-center. Russell took third on the play when center fielder McReynolds bobbled the ball. Russell then scored on Bill Madlock’s ground-out to the shortstop.
So it was another close game--each of the four were one-run contests--and the Dodgers had chances. In the seventh, Sax singled and took second on Mariano Duncan’s ground-out. Padre right-handed reliever Lance McCullers came in to face Russell, but Lasorda sent Ken Landreaux up instead.
Landreaux fouled out to left.
In the eighth, pinch-hitter Terry Whitfield led off with a walk, and Boros brought in Goose Gossage, who’d had a 7.02 earned-run average in the spring. He last pitched on April 1, and was a fool that day, giving up three runs to the Angels.
But Gossage retired Mike Marshall and pinch-hitters Franklin Stubbs and Mike Scioscia--on six pitches.
“Emotion is so important,” Boros said of Gossage. “In spring training, I don’t think he was into it.”
Then the Dodgers took themselves out of it with that ninth-inning baserunning farce.
Cedeno was far from a farce. He had singles in his first two at-bats and played a flawless center field.
“I don’t feel that bad considering I haven’t played for a week,” said Cedeno, who was waived in spring training by Toronto.
But he wasn’t quite ready to face Gossage in the eighth inning. Stubbs, who struck out three straight times Wednesday night, pinch-hit for Cedeno and took a called third strike from Gossage.
Lasorda had no remorse about throwing Cedeno in there.
“Why waste time?” he said. “When you bring a Marine overseas, you put him in the heat of battle, don’t you? Damn right, he’s in there. What do you think we signed him for.”
And Gwynn, after all that extra hitting, had two singles himself.
“Still, I’m in total confusion right now,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get squared away. But hey, we split with these guys. Dynamite!”
Dodger Notes Bill Madlock came out of the game after his infield ground-out brought home the Dodgers’ last run in the fifth. The injury was announced as a strained left hip. “Just a little pull, that’s all,” said Madlock, whose availability is listed as day-to-day . . . Rick Honeycutt on his pitching: “For the first outing, like anybody, you want to do well, but I felt like I never got in a good rhythm or groove. A lot of their hits I was ahead of people but made bad pitches when I was ahead. It wasn’t a problem with my arm, I was just rushing a little.” . . . Ken Howell, who finished last season by giving up 13 earned runs in his last 12 innings, then was banged around in the spring, pitched three scoreless innings Thursday night, giving up two hits and striking out three. Dodger scout Mike Brito said one of Howell’s pitches registered 95 m.p.h. “I’m just going to turn the ball loose,” Howell said. “No more holding back and trying to make the perfect pitch. I’m going to do the things that got me here--stay aggressive and throw strikes.” . . . Jerry Reuss will start tonight’s game against the San Francisco Giants. “If he says he’s OK, he’ll pitch,” Manager Tom Lasorda said. Reuss, who has had a sore elbow, responded by saying he plans to give himself the starting nod . . . Pedro Guerrero update: He’s experiencing much pain and has been bed-ridden with a 102- to 104-degree temperature, according to his agent, Tony Attanasio. Guerrero showed up at the Dodger clubhouse before the game. He is scheduled to see Dr. Frank Jobe Tuesday . . . Alex Trevino, making his Dodger debut, replaced catcher Mike Scioscia in the lineup and had one hit. “Tommy (Lasorda) didn’t say anything, but you can’t play 162 (games),” Scioscia said. “I felt pretty good last year (he caught 139), but ideally, you don’t want to stretch it more than that” . . . Cesar Cedeno is wearing No. 7, Steve Yeager’s old number . . . A new Padre, Marvell Wynne, also is wearing No. 7, Kurt Bevacqua’s old number. Wynne was offered No. 23 but turned it down. “Oh, you should’ve taken it,” catcher Terry Kennedy told Wynne. “That’s Dick Williams’ old number.”