Dodgers, Angels Start Second Half Far Apart : Ailing, Last-Place L.A. Seeks Get-Well Cards in St. Louis

Times Staff Writer

The mercury read 95 degrees in the shade in Busch Stadium, where only Stan Musial, the statue and Al Campanis, the Dodger vice president, were not perspiring Wednesday afternoon.

Campanis, overseeing the Dodger workout here from behind the batting cage, eventually shed his suit coat and loosened his necktie, his only concession to the Missouri heat that had rendered most of his players, as well as Manager Tom Lasorda, shirtless.

How cool was Campanis? Listen to him discussing the second-half prospects for the Dodgers, who haven't been in last place at the All-Star break since 1979, who have five teams standing between them and first place in the National League West and who have eight games to make up on the current leaders, the San Francisco Giants.

"I think it's still a horse race," said Campanis, conveniently overlooking that had any thoroughbred been as broken down as the Dodgers, the horse would have been mercifully destroyed long ago.

"Eight games out is not the end of the world."

And such a deficit is no cause to make any changes, either, Campanis added, no matter what the Dodgers' division rivals are doing.

The San Diego Padres went out and traded for two pitchers, Ed Whitson and Dave LaPoint. The Atlanta Braves got two pitchers as well, Jim Acker and Doyle Alexander from Toronto. The San Francisco Giants signed Steve Carlton. And Houston Manager Hal Lanier said he'd like to add another pitcher.

The Dodgers? For the moment, their biggest deals are with doctors.

"I don't think we have to make any moves," Campanis said. "We just have to get our guys back, and that will be more than enough."

Some of the wounded will return tonight, when the Dodgers open a four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals. Catcher Mike Scioscia, out for more than a month, will get off the disabled list. So will third baseman Bill Madlock and outfielder Franklin Stubbs.

"We've got some stability now," Campanis said.

When the team returns to Los Angeles July 28, Pedro Guerrero may be back, too.

"Guerrero was so impressive today, you almost forget (about his injury)," Campanis said. "It was awesome, the way he was hitting the ball. And the way he was running today, he could play left field."

Campanis said that with one exception, there isn't a position that needs help.

"If we have a big need right now, from the standpoint of experience it would be a center fielder," he said, in an unsubtle commentary on the contributions of Ken Landreaux, a nine-year big league veteran.

"But who's the center fielder you're going to get?"

The Dodgers, the league's worst road team with an 11-26 record, must play 44 of their remaining 74 games on the road. No Western Division winner has won fewer than 89 games, the number Atlanta needed to win the 1982 title by a game over the Dodgers. The Dodgers would have to go 49-25 just to match that.

Madlock dismisses the idea that injuries have been primarily responsible for the Dodgers' poor play thus far. He blames bad baseball, reflected in the Dodgers' 24 losses by one run.

But Madlock's opinion is in the minority. Now, the injury theory will be put to the test.

"I'm sure everybody's getting tired of hearing us talk about the injuries, but let's face it, that's what it was," Bill Russell said.

"What do we need to win? A healthy lineup for one. And playing the opposite of what we've been doing."

Lasorda said if the Dodgers are just four games back by the first of September, anything can happen.

"Number 1, we've got to get our guys back," he said. "Number 2, we have to get a hot streak going. And number 3, they've got to believe in themselves, that they can still do it."

Lasorda plans to use Dennis Powell, back from Albuquerque with Jerry Reuss going onto the disabled list, as his left-handed short man in the bullpen.

"He can give you that strikeout," Lasorda said. "I'd still prefer to have a right-hander to be a long man."

For now, however, his only options are left-handers Carlos Diaz, who has pitched well of late, and Ed Vande Berg, who hasn't.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

W-L Pct. GB SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS 48-40 .545 -- HOUSTON ASTROS 47-41 .534 1 SAN DIEGO PADRES 45-43 .511 3 ATLANTA BRAVES 42-46 .477 6 CINCINNATI REDS 40-44 .476 6 LOS ANGELES DODGERS 40-48 .455 8

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
61°