Those weary Dodgers, almost out of players and patience, keep asking what else can go wrong. And they keep finding out.
Tuesday night's development, a fitting prelude to a demoralizing 2-1 loss to the Montreal Expos, had the Dodgers asking: "Who's at shortstop?"
Because of an injury siege that has decimated the roster, the Dodgers had acquired shortstop Glenn Hoffman from the Boston Red Sox Monday night. Hoffman arrived Tuesday and was going to start at shortstop, because there was no one else.
Then, late word came that the Red Sox had made a mistake and Hoffman first would have to clear waivers and could not join the Dodgers until Friday.
Meanwhile, Craig Shipley, the only other true shortstop on the Dodgers, was en route to San Antonio, where he had been optioned.
Phil Garner turned out to be the one-night answer at short, and after the game, losing pitcher Orel Hershiser was posing another question: Why hadn't the Dodgers signed free agent Tim Raines in the spring?
Raines could not have played shortstop, but he could have helped with an offense that has scored one run in the last 31 innings. Raines, who is hitting .341, tripled off Hershiser to lead off the eighth, then scored on Mitch Webster's single to break a 1-1 tie.
"It's ironic he scored the run," Hershiser said of Raines. "It's too bad he didn't have the other color of blue on tonight."
Blue certainly fits the Dodgers' mood these days. For 10 minutes afterward, Manager Tom Lasorda sat in the dugout, staring at the ground and perhaps trying to put another wacky Dodger day into perspective.
If it was any solace to the Dodgers, they weren't to blame for the Hoffman snafu. Lou Gorman, Boston's general manager, had mistakenly thought Hoffman had been sent outright, and not optioned to the Red Sox' Triple-A team earlier this season. Because Hoffman was optioned to the minors, he had to go through the waiver process before a trade could be made.
Gorman made the same mistake last season when he made a trade with Seattle for Spike Owen and Dave Henderson. Gorman had forgotten he had optioned pitcher Mike Brown, and he had to scratch Owen and Henderson from the lineup their first game.
"When it happens twice, you just feel dumb," Gorman said Tuesday night. "You indelibly inscribe the waiver rules in your mind, rubber stamp them on your forehead, and then this happens. I feel bad."
Not as bad as Lasorda and Dodger Vice President Fred Claire, who were left without a shortstop hours before game time.
Said Claire, scouting a Dodger rookie league team in Montana: "We took it at face value that (the Red Sox) were aware of Hoffman's status. The league office was closed (Monday night), so we couldn't check with them."
Lasorda took the news considerably harder.
"To me, it's idiotic for a GM not to know whether a guy is optioned or outrighted," Lasorda said. "I mean, they have a bulletin board in their offices listing all the player moves. Why should we have to double check him."
Shortly after hearing the news, Lasorda scrounged around the visiting clubhouse here, looking for a shortstop. Catcher Mike Scioscia volunteered. He had last played shortstop as a 9-year-old Little Leaguer. Outfielder Ken Landreaux, who played shortstop at Dominguez High in 1973, also volunteered.
Finally, Lasorda decided on Garner, who said he last played shortstop in 1980 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Garner made one fielding error at shortstop in seven chances. Not bad, but . . .
"At least he went out there and was willing to play, so you can say that much for him," said Lasorda, when asked to assess his last-resort shortstop.
The Dodgers once again were without Mickey Hatcher (strained groin muscle) and Mike Marshall (sore left ankle). Even though Pedro Guerrero had two hits in his return to the lineup after receiving an injection in his sore right thumb, he didn't appear the same hitter.
Guerrero also aggravated an old injury--sore left wrist--when he was involved in a collision at first base with Expo starting pitcher Bob Sebra. Guerrero said he doesn't know if he can play tonight.
On top of all the other Dodger problems, Raines continues to haunt them.
Hershiser, frustrated by the latest Dodger offensive drought, repeatedly made references to the Dodgers' failure to sign Raines in his postgame comments.
"He's the toughest out in the league, and I can't believe 24 or 25 teams didn't want him (when Raines was a free agent)," Hershiser said.
Tuesday, Raines not only scored the winning run in the seventh but also helped prevent the Dodgers from scoring a go-ahead run in the fifth.
With Tracy Woodson on first base, Hershiser faked a bunt and slapped a double down the left-field line. Raines quickly retrieved the ball, made a good cutoff throw to shortstop Hubie Brooks, who nailed Woodson at the plate.
Lasorda could not blame third base coach Joe Amalfitano for sending home Woodson. When a scoring opportunity arises, the Dodgers have to take chances, because it may not come again.
In the first inning, the Dodgers broke a 22-inning scoreless streak by getting three hits, advancement on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly off Sebra. But perhaps only the Dodgers could turn that into just one run.
"We aren't putting any runs on the board," Lasorda said. "That's not too joyful."
Said Guerrero: "Sure, I can believe what's happening. I've seen it."
More on the Glenn Hoffman mess: Craig Shipley arrived in San Antonio Tuesday night and was met by a team representative, who told him he had to return to Montreal. Vice President Fred Claire said Shipley would rejoin the Dodgers in time for today's game. "Barring any unforeseen circumstances," Claire said. Presumably, he will start at shortstop. . . . The first run Hershiser allowed came in a bases-loaded situation in the third inning, when he hit Tim Wallach on the helmet with a slow curve, forcing in a run. Hershiser later laughed about the crowd booing him. "These are hockey fans, so maybe they don't know that you don't try to hit someone with the bases loaded," Hershiser said. "That's like shooting the puck into your own net with your goalie pulled." . . . Injury update: Mike Marshall's left ankle remained too swollen to play Tuesday, and he was examined by an Expo team doctor. Marshall had hoped to take batting practice Tuesday in order to test his sore left wrist. . . . Infielder Mickey Hatcher (strained right groin) took batting practice Tuesday, but he experienced soreness running the bases.