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Baseball : For Gooden, Dodger Stadium Mound Is Easy Hill to Climb

Dwight Gooden not only feels at home in Dodger Stadium, he pictures himself as king of the hill.

And why not?

Gooden has an 8-1 career record with a 1.22 earned-run average against the Dodgers and is 4-0 with a 0.34 ERA at Dodger Stadium. This season, in two victories here against the Dodgers, he allowed just 1 run in 18 innings.

Gooden will attempt to keep that record intact when he starts for the New York Mets in Game 1 of the National League playoffs on Oct. 4.

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He is expecting to play the Dodgers, who clinched a tie for the NL West Saturday with a victory over the San Francisco Giants.

“It’s my favorite park on the road,” he said, sitting at his locker at Shea Stadium. “Everything there is just perfect--the area, the atmosphere, the big crowd, the park itself.”

And, topping it all:

“The mound is the best in the league,” Gooden said. “You really feel on top of the hitters. You really feel in control.

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“As a power pitcher, I have a tendency to get lazy with my curve, but the drop (of the mound) is so good that it forces you to follow through, it makes you a better pitcher.”

All of this may help ease the playoff pressure, but Gooden said he won’t be relying on his past success against the Dodgers.

“I’m confident because of the way I’ve been pitching overall, but you can’t take anything for granted,” he said.

“The Dodgers are aware of what I’ve done against them in the past and will be geared to make adjustments. They’ll be psyched. If you’re not pumped up for the playoffs, you gotta be a hermit.”

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The New York Daily News’ headline covering the top half of Page 1 Tuesday proclaimed: “Bronx Blockbuster.”

The Page 3 story, upstaging Bush, Dukakis and Hurricane Gilbert, detailed an anticipated Yankee shake-up and was a compilation of material that has appeared in a variety of publications.

Among the speculation:

--Dallas Green will replace Lou Piniella as Yankee manager.

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--Jack Clark has asked to be traded to a National League team and will be accommodated.

--Dave Righetti will return to a starting role.

--Ron Guidry will be released.

--Don Mattingly may be traded.

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The story claimed that the Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies and another National League team already have made offers for Clark, who is unhappy with reduced playing time since the club’s acquisition of Ken Phelps, and that Clark has been unable to adjust to the Yankee environment.

A right-handed hitting first baseman with power would seem to be the Dodgers’ most apparent need, but Executive Vice President Fred Claire implied that he will not part with a front-line pitcher, the requisite price for Clark.

Refusing to confirm or deny that he has made an offer for Clark, Claire cited the changes that have been made in the Dodger roster over the last year and said:

“We’re looking to improve the offense, but I don’t expect any major moves.

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“You can’t acquire quality without giving up quality, and I don’t intend to tear down our winning features. I don’t intend to tear down that foundation of pitching. We’re in a good position age-wise and talent-wise, and I don’t see the benefit in removing any of our key pitchers.”

To accompany Righetti’s return to the rotation, the Yankees are said to covet Phillie relief ace Steve Bedrosian, who will be available as a free agent or could be acquired in a trade for Clark.

Unhappily resigned to becoming a starter again, Righetti said:

“I’m going to start throwing midway through the winter to get my arm strong. Most starters don’t start that soon, but I have to do it because I know they’ll probably wait until the last minute to make a decision on this. They’ll wait until right before spring training. I know how the Yankees operate and I can’t wait on them.”

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Is Bob Ojeda, guaranteed $925,000 next season, to be admired for doing his own landscaping or chastised for jeopardizing his future and the Mets’ investment by failing to hire a gardener?

Ojeda nearly lost the middle finger on his left hand Tuesday in an accident involving an electric hedge clipper.

The accident prompted Dodger pitcher Brian Holton to tell The Times’ Sam McManis that he is forbidden by his wife even to use an automatic can opener or unscrew a jar lid during the season.

Where does a team draw the line? Should Ojeda have hired help?

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“If you’re going to think that way, why stop at the hedges?” Met Manager Dave Johnson asked. “Why not pay someone to change your flat tire, too?

“Contrary to what some people think, ballplayers do some things on their own. For Bobby, gardening was one of them. He takes pride in his landscaping, I’m told. It was a freak accident. How do you foresee such a thing?”

It is difficult to say whether Lance Parrish, at 32, has lost it or if he still remains mentally down over his decision to leave the Detroit Tigers in favor of the Phillies two years ago.

The Angels will have to come up with an answer as they consider dipping into owner Gene Autry’s saddlebags to further enrich Parrish, who is almost certain to become a free agent again because of the latest collusion decision.

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The Angels may like to think that a move to Orange County and the American League would be an elixir for the Yorba Linda resident, but the evidence isn’t encouraging.

Parrish batted .245 with 17 home runs and 67 runs batted in during his first season with the Phillies. Now, somewhat isolated as a recognized threat in an inconsistent lineup and pressing because of it, he is batting .219 with 15 homers and 59 RBIs. In addition, the last 2 months haven’t strengthened his bargaining power. Since Aug. 7, he has 5 passed balls and 1 RBI.

And in the meantime, Bob Boone, 41 in November, rolls on, batting a career high .295 through Friday. Of the Parrish rumors, Boone recently told The Times’ Mike Penner:

“In this game I’ve been through a billion names. Your competition is all of baseball. They could make a trade tomorrow.

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“You learn not to worry about it, to deal with it when it happens.

“That’s a decision (the Angels) have to make. They may want to change everybody. All I can do is put my A game on the field. At my age, all I’m trying to do is answer the question, ‘Can you play another year?’ I think I’ve answered that question to myself and other people. Yes I can.”

Racial unrest has shadowed the Kansas City Royals through a long summer, the latest incident occurring last Sunday, when a misplay by utility outfielder Bill Pecota burdened pitcher Steve Farr with a 3-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

“We’ve got a lot of guys here who don’t even want to go out on the field and that really bugs me,” Farr said.

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Willie Wilson, Danny Tartabull and Bo Jackson, the Royals’ regular outfielders, had sat out the game with injuries. They reportedly viewed Farr’s pointed remark in terms of black and white but wouldn’t go on the record about it.

The San Diego Padres, apparently willing to trade catching prospect Sandy Alomar Jr. and relief pitcher Lance McCullers, are among several clubs said to be pursuing Tartabull, who was traded to Kansas City by the Seattle Mariners two years ago. Tartabull, who has 23 home runs and 93 RBIs, said of the latest rumors:

“I know trades are part of the game, but I just hope the Royals don’t make the same mistake Seattle did.”


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