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Dodger Notebook : Martinez Sharp in B Game, Morgan Struggles

Times Staff Writer

The search for that elusive fifth Dodger starting pitcher continued anew Thursday on two fields, with Ramon Martinez throwing in a B game on minor league diamond No. 1 here and newcomer Mike Morgan making his Dodger starting debut at Holman Stadium.

Martinez fared much the better, throwing five shutout innings against a split Baltimore Orioles squad, while Morgan was rocked for five hits and four runs in three innings against his former teammates during Baltimore’s 7-3 win in the regularly scheduled game.

But with the start of the season less than two weeks away, Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said he still is uncertain which pitcher he will choose to fill the No. 5 spot.

“I don’t know any more and I don’t know any less,” said Lasorda, who spent more than an hour throwing curveballs to John Shelby, the center fielder whose spring average--for what it’s worth--dropped below .200 to .193 after he had gone hitless in four at-bats.

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“He’s been struggling, so I thought it was time to take him out and build his confidence,” said Lasorda, who owes Shelby two dinners after twice betting the player that he couldn’t hit line drives on seven of 10 pitches.

“I’m going to give him a day off, too,” Lasorda said. “He’s a hard worker. He wants to play every day. There were too many years when he didn’t have a chance to play.”

Former Dodger prospect Mike Devereaux, meanwhile, hit a three-run homer for the Orioles in the ninth inning off reliever Tim Crews in his bid to win an outfield position for the American League team.

Martinez gave up just two hits, walked two, struck out four and had several fastballs clocked in the 92-94 m.p.h. range, but showed an ineffective curveball.

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“I’d still like him to throw the curveball better,” Lasorda said. “They’re not breaking like I’ve seen his curveballs break before.”

Morgan, who came to the Dodgers in a deal for Devereaux, said he didn’t throw the ball anywhere near as hard as he could against the Orioles, who scored three runs in the third.

“I may have been squeezing the ball too hard, trying to throw it too hard,” Morgan said. “I’ll just have to put it in my memory bank.”

Morgan said he is willing either to start or relieve, and that he’s well suited for relief, having never experienced arm problems.

“These are the dog days (of spring training) right now,” he said. “I haven’t thrown as many innings this spring as in the past. I’ve only got 10 innings in since I’ve gotten here.”

Dodger Notes

The flu bug continued to afflict the team. Kirk Gibson, who has played in just one exhibition this spring, missed his fourth game in a row because of it. Others absent were Mike Davis, Chris Gwynn, Mike Marshall, Alejandro Pena, Franklin Stubbs and coach Joe Ferguson. Orel Hershiser also was sent home with a throat infection. He also had a sore back, apparently the result of climbing some stairs two at a time in his rented Florida condominium. . . . Manager Tom Lasorda received a pair of $2,000 anaconda snakeskin baseball shoes--in blue, of course, from a shoe manufacturer. “I’m going to take the spikes off ‘em and wear ‘em,” Lasorda cracked.


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