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Notebook : Lasorda Thinking of Davis as Designated Hitter

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda is leaning toward Mike Davis, a left-handed batter, as the designated hitter in Game 3 at Oakland Tuesday against A’s right-hander Bob Welch. So, what about Kirk Gibson?

Gibson says at this point, because of his injuries, it would be detrimental to the team.

“If I played one game that would be it,” Gibson said. “If it gets to two games each it might be different, but in my physical state, pushing too hard too early isn’t a good idea.

Gibson is suffering from a sprained medial colateral ligament in his right knee and a strained left hamstring. He said his knee was “slightly improved” Sunday, but he said he doesn’t expect to run at his usual full strength the rest of the season.

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Regardless, Lasorda says that if Gibson is healthy enough to be the designated hitter, then he would be good enough to play.

“If he hits the ball, doesn’t he have to run?” Lasorda asked. “The only thing he doesn’t have to do is field.

All good news for Davis, who says he has been campaigning for the designated-hitter job the last few days.

“I was the designated hitter for a short time in Oakland when I got hurt (injured knee),” Davis said.

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Davis hit .130 as a designated hitter in 1987--he was 6 for 46 with 1 home run and 4 runs batted in. He hit .167 this season as a pinch hitter, going 5 for 30 with 1 home run and 3 RBIs.

Does Davis like to be the designated hitter?

“Anything to get in the lineup,” Davis said.

Does Lasorda like the designated hitter rule?

“No, I don’t like the rule,” Lasorda said. “I think it takes away from the strategy of the game, and I think starters pitch much longer than they should, and don’t get the opportunity to preserve their arms as well.”

The designated hitter rule is observed at the home of the American League team in the World Series. Since the designated hitter was first used in the World Series in 1977, American League pitchers are 1 for 91 in the National League parks.

After Tim Belcher put one deep into the left field pavilion during pitcher’s batting practice Sunday, Fernando Valenzuela chided John Tudor: “C’mon, back-to-back, back-to-back,” Fernando said.

Tudor popped the ball into the batting cage net, but said he didn’t want to hit a home run anyway.

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“I’ve only had two home runs in BP,” Tudor said. “The last one I hit was in Minnesota, and I got ripped the next day.

Tudor, who is scheduled to pitch Game 3 Tuesday at Oakland against Welch, was referring to his Game 6 start for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Twins in last year’s World Series, when he gave up 6 runs on 11 hits in 4-plus innings.

Tudor has a 3-2 record in 5 World Series appearances--all starts--which he pitched for St. Louis. In 1985 against Kansas City, Tudor was 2-1 with a shutout. He won Game 1 and 4, but got lit up in Game 7, which Kansas City won, 11-0, to win the World Series.

Last season against Minnesota, Tudor held the Twins to 1 run to win Game 1, but then took the loss in Game 6.

Welch, as Tudor does for the Dodgers, has the most experience for an A’s pitcher in World Series play, all for the Dodgers. Besides his famous match-up against Reggie Jackson in the second game of the 1978 World Series, in which Welch struck out Mr. October to earn a save, Welch also pitched in the 1981 series. He has an 0-1 record with a 10.39 earned-run average in 4 games.

Tim Belcher, rocked for 4 runs on Jose Canseco’s grand slam homer in the second inning Saturday, said it wasn’t the rookie jitters that got him.

“I usually take the mound thinking I want to win the game for myself and for my team. But last night I was thinking I wanted to win for myself, my teammates and to do good in spite of them. That’s what got me.

“I had just said the day before that it was not my intention to carry out any vendetta against Oakland for trading me. And consciously, I don’t have a vendetta at all. But I guess I just wanted to look good in front of them, and I pressed too hard.”

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Belcher said Tom Lasorda told him after Saturday’s game not to worry, that he’d have another chance to pitch in the Series. That chance may come in Game 4 , Wednesday at Oakland. Oakland Manager Tony La Russa said, if nothing changes, Dave Stewart will start Game 4 for Oakland.

After Sunday’s win, Gibson said the Series is far from over.

“Oakland is far from dead, and if anybody thinks that I’ve got news for you,” Gibson said.

“When I hit a 3-run home run for Detroit in 1984 in the bottom of the eighth (of the final game), we knew then it was over.”

Call it the first overblown event of this World Series, the beanball war that never was, and probably never will be.

Both the Dodgers and Oakland Athletics claimed there was nothing to Game 1’s first-inning wild pitches, one hitting the A’s Jose Canseco, the other hitting the Dodgers’ Steve Sax.

After the second, courtesy of A’s starter Dave Stewart, both clubs were warned by plate umpire Doug Harvey. Both clubs thought the warning was unnecessary.

“Stewart apologized to me, I knew he wasn’t throwing at me,” said Sax, who was hit on Stewart’s first pitch of the game after Canseco was hit by Dodger starter Tim Belcher in the top of the first. “Just like we weren’t throwing at Canseco.”

Said Oakland catcher Terry Steinbach: “No way anybody was throwing at anybody. At this stage of the season, you’d have to be crazy. And in the first inning? I can see maybe something happening in the seventh or eighth inning with a big gap in the score. But the first batter of the game? No way.”

A’s pitching coach Dave Duncan said he didn’t know why anyone was warned.

“I can understand Harvey trying to keep things under control, so that doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “But I don’t think either team was guilty of anything.”

The World Series is moving to Oakland, where, in place of organ music, the loudspeakers blare a variety of rock ‘n roll.

Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda can handle that, up to a point. But, when an interviewer from a music magazine asked him last week what he thought of heavy-metal music, Lasorda said:

“You mean that hippie crap? Sometimes they play weird music at ballparks during batting practice. It sounds like ugly noise to me. Or somebody recovering from a bad meal.

“But hey, if the players can hit to that stuff, what do I care?”

Times sports writers Mike Downey, Gordon Edes, Bill Plaschke and Sam McManis also contributed to this story.


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