Lasorda Has a Word With Fallen Dodgers

Times Staff Writer

Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda's frustrations, simmering for two months like a pot of the spaghetti sauce marketed under his name, bubbled over Saturday in his first postgame screaming session of the season.

Another uninspired Dodger performance, this time resulting in a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds before a crowd of 33,716 at Riverfront Stadium, prompted Lasorda's blowup,

Lasorda's pointed comments easily penetrated the double concrete walls and two metal doors separating the clubhouse from the media waiting room. In a five-minute address, sprinkled with expletives, Lasorda castigated his team for lackadaisical play and strongly said he would no longer tolerate it.

"If everybody's not in their (bleeping) room tonight by 1 o'clock, you'll be fined $300," Lasorda yelled behind closed doors. "Everybody's in the (bleeping) dugout, hanging their (bleeping) heads.

"I'm really (bleeping) disappointed. We can't even make the routine (bleeping) plays. We should make those plays, with the talent we've got on this (bleeping) team. . . . I want everyone in their (bleeping) rooms tonight."

Usually, Dodger players are not subjected to curfews on the road. Clearly, though, something different needs to be tried to awaken the slumbering team, a loser of two straight and 14 of the last 20.

Saturday's defeat had to be even more upsetting to Lasorda because it was against a former Dodger, Ted Power, who threw a three-hitter in his first complete game since 1983.

Meanwhile, for the second straight start, Fernando Valenzuela (5-4) gave up five runs in five innings and was pulled for a pinch-hitter. This time, though, Valenzuela wasn't given much defensive or offensive support by the Dodgers.

Two defensive misplays early in the third inning, one resulting in an error, put the pressure on Valenzuela, who again could not work his way out of it. Power reached first base on an infield single as shortstop Dave Anderson successfully dived for the ball but threw it over first baseman Franklin Stubbs' head. Then second baseman Steve Sax threw wide to first on Tracy Jones' grounder, putting runners on second and third with no outs.

The Reds then scored their five runs in the third on Barry Larkin's two-run double to left field, Dave Parker's RBI single to right and Nick Esasky's two-run double to left.

Cincinnati was shut down the rest of the way, but it didn't need any more offense. Power allowed only a run in the third, when Jeff Hamilton doubled and later scored on Sax's grounder, and one in the ninth on John Shelby's inside-the-park home run that was aided by center fielder Eric Davis' defensive misplay.

Given the circumstances of Saturday's loss, Lasorda's postgame outburst was understandable. He seemingly has shown restraint this season, even though the Dodgers are 25-29 and in fifth place in the National League West. Lasorda had calmed down by the time reporters questioned him. But he could not hide his frustrations.

"I'm very, very upset that we aren't winning," Lasorda said. "That's what it is. I'm sure they (the players) feel the same way. Probably nobody feels any worse than those guys out there, because they sure as heck are trying."

Anderson, who said this was a minor Lasorda outburst, thought that it might help the team snap out of its funk.

"He really didn't explode, compared to previous years," Anderson said. "He just wanted to get our attention. A lot of times, these things help. It's up to us now. You can do all the screaming and hollering you want, but you've got to do it on the field."

One of the more baffling puzzles to the Dodgers is why Valenzuela isn't pitching well. In his last five starts, Valenzuela is 1-3 and has a 6.18 earned-run average.

Valenzuela insists his left arm and shoulder are neither hurt nor tired. But opponents have commented about how his fastball has lost effectiveness and his screwball has lost movement.

"I feel all right," Valenzuela said. "They just hit the ball. They didn't hit the ball hard all the time, but it's still a basehit. After (the third) inning, I tried to throw more fastballs."

Is Valenzuela frustrated by his recent run of mediocre pitching?

"No, it's just a game," he said. "I'll go out again next time and see. Most important to me is that I feel all right."

Lasorda said he didn't remember the last time Valenzuela had such a prolonged slump.

Asked for an explanation, Lasorda said: "There's a couple of things. (1) We've gotten him in a hole; (2) He's not getting the ball where he wants it. He's very, very effective when he keeps the ball down and makes them look for the screwball."

Valenzuela is, by no means, the Dodgers' main problem.

The offense, which had produced 17 runs in three previous games, stranded runners when it did get men on base.

After the third inning, Power (5-2) didn't give the Dodgers much of a chance to score. He retired 12 straight Dodgers at one point and allowed only one hit before Shelby's inside-the-park home run.

With one out in the ninth inning, Shelby hit a line drive that bounced in front of Davis in center field. The ball went under Davis' glove and bounded to the wall, allowing the speedy Shelby to score.

That rare occurrence did nothing to dampen Power's performance or make the Dodgers feel any better. Power, acquired by the Reds in 1982 for Mike Ramsey, is 11-3 after moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation last August.

Dodger Notes A decision has not been made, but it is almost certain that Tim Leary will become the new fifth starter for the Dodgers, at least for one game. The Dodgers, who have been going with four starters for the last 10 days, will probably start Leary Tuesday night in Atlanta. Alejandro Pena, who lost the fifth spot, was used in relief Sunday, so Leary appears to be the logical choice. . . . Manager Tom Lasorda said shortstop Mariano Duncan would have been back in the lineup Saturday after a five-game benching, but Duncan was bothered by a migraine headache and sat out. "I'm not feeling well," Duncan said. "They happen a lot to me." Said trainer Bill Buhler: "He has a family history of migraines. They happen about two or three times a year. We're going to give him some medication and hope it makes him feel better." . . . Orel Hershiser threw on the sideline Saturday and reported no discomfort in his right elbow, which bothered him in his last start on Wednesday. . . . Len Matuszek, recovering from partially torn tissue on the bottom of his left foot, worked on baserunning during batting practice. But he reported to trainers that he felt pain while pushing off on the foot. "It's by no means a setback," therapist Pat Screnar said. "He's just not ready to do that yet."

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