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Dodger Notebook : Meeting Between Sax, Claire Is Most Cordial

Times Staff Writer

For the first time since Steve Sax abruptly told him last November that he was going to sign with the New York Yankees, Executive Vice President Fred Claire talked with the former Dodger second baseman Tuesday night. The exchange was cordial, despite Sax’s well-publicized criticism of Claire as the man responsible for his departure from the Dodgers.

They met outside the Yankee clubhouse about a half-hour before the Dodgers shut out the Yankees, 7-0, an exhibition game in which Sax did not appear because of a strained muscle in his left side.

Sax, in dress pinstripes, came out a back door of the Yankee clubhouse and shook hands with Claire, who politely inquired about Sax’s injury, which he suffered last Tuesday and which is expected to sideline him another five to seven days.

The conversation lasted about five minutes, then the two men shook hands again and Sax--a Dodger for the first seven seasons of his big league career--returned to the clubhouse of his new team.

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“I wanted to see him and have a few words,” Claire said. “It was basically just personal. . . . I had two messages for him. I wanted to thank him for what he had done for the Dodger organization and to wish him the very best. Nothing more than that.”

At no time, according to Claire, did he address Sax’s contention that last winter’s negotiations with the Dodgers soured because of what Sax perceived as a condescending attitude on Claire’s part. Claire invited Sax to find a better offer, Sax claimed, and the second baseman took him up on it.

Sax signed a $4-million, three-year contract with the Yankees last Nov. 23. Two-and-a-half weeks later, the Dodgers signed former Yankee Willie Randolph as a free agent. Randolph went hitless in three at-bats against his former teammates Monday.

Before the game, Sax entertained the Dodgers with selections from his repertoire of impressions. He also bid good luck to third baseman Jeff Hamilton, who now wears the No. 3 that belonged to Sax as a Dodger. “Wear it with pride,” Sax said.

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Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda then chided Sax for requesting No. 3 from the Yankees, the number worn by Babe Ruth and retired by the team. “I don’t understand--he’s not going to use it,” Sax said.

Lasorda said Sax will always be welcome in his clubhouse.

“I miss him, I love him like my son,” Lasorda said. “How can you not love him? That guy was good for me. When I’d get down, he’d make me laugh. And this guy appreciated what I did, not like that other guy.”

That other guy is another former Dodger, Pedro Guerrero, who ripped Lasorda last week for running too lax a clubhouse.

Notes

Depending on the weather, Kirk Gibson may take batting practice, according to Manager Tom Lasorda. Gibson is sidelined with tendinitis in his right knee. . . . Dodger pitchers, despite a cool, rainy night, shut out the Yankees on four hits. Tim Leary worked four hitless innings, walking one and striking out three. Jay Howell pitched one inning, giving up two hits and a walk while striking out one, then went to a local hospital to attend to his wife, Alison. Tim Crews pitched two innings, allowing one hit, and Ricky Horton closed out the Yankees with two innings, giving up two hits. . . . Alfredo Griffin continued his hot hitting by going three for three, giving him nine hits in 15 at-bats. The Dodgers broke the game open with five runs in the eighth off Luis Sanchez, the former Angel who has been out of the big leagues the last three seasons. He spent 1986 and ’87 in Japan and last season in Venezuela before signing with the Yankees.


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