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Dodger Notebook : Gibson Out of Action, Seems Out of Opener

Times Staff Writer

The Kirk Gibson watch passed yet another day Tuesday with no sign of the Dodger outfielder in uniform, further increasing speculation that he will not play Monday in Cincinnati, when the Dodgers open the 1989 season against the Cincinnati Reds.

Gibson is expected to accompany the team to Los Angeles when the Dodgers break camp after this afternoon’s exhibition with Montreal, their last in Florida. On Thursday night, they begin the Freeway Series with the Angels, with the first game scheduled for Dodger Stadium and the final two in Anaheim.

Gibson offered no comment on his condition Tuesday, but was in street clothes while the Dodgers were beating the New York Yankees, 11-10, in Holman Stadium. He is still recovering from the flu and also has some tendinitis in his right shoulder.

Another flu victim, Orel Hershiser, said he will pitch Thursday against the Angels, presumably a tuneup for an Opening Day assignment. Pitching coach Ron Perranoski said he plans to split Thursday’s game between Hershiser and Tim Belcher.

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Meanwhile, Mike Morgan probably eliminated any lingering suspense regarding the Dodgers’ No. 5 starter by shutting out the Yankees in five innings of three-hit ball. Morgan struck out five and did not walk a batter and was clearly pleased with his performance.

The former American Leaguer, whose only hitting experience has been in spring training, even had a single in his one official plate appearance.

“They should have given me the ball,” he said with a grin.

He’ll get the ball from the Dodgers, judging from the reaction of Perranoski.

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“He did some real pitching today,” Perranoski said. “His last time out I think he was trying to force everything, overthrowing. But he had an excellent curveball and a changeup today.”

Morgan reiterated that he would be content either as a starter or reliever.

“I’m better off not knowing my role,” he said. “I get so hyped up for games, I’ve got to tone it down. With relieving, you never know when you’re coming in.

“All my bullpen opportunities in the past have been demotions (from starting). I’ve never been handed a bullpen spot.”

The two stalwarts of the Dodger bullpen, Jay Howell and Alejandro Pena, made things suspenseful in the ninth inning, when the Yankees hit three home runs--by Don Slaught, Mel Hall and Randy Velarde--to score seven runs and all but wipe out an 11-3 Dodger lead.

Howell, another flu victim, has pitched just 8 innings this spring, but Perranoski said he’ll be ready when the season starts.

“I’ll have to pitch every day in the Freeway Series,” Howell said with a smile, “but I think I’ll take tomorrow off, OK?”

Mariano Duncan, putting a flourish on what has been an exceptional spring, had a double and three-run home run for the Dodgers. Mike Marshall, playing for the first time after a week-long bout with the flu, singled in a run, and Jeff Hamilton, recovering from a pulled thigh muscle, had two hits.

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Second baseman Willie Randolph left the game in the sixth inning when he received word that his wife, Gretchen, had been taken to the hospital. Dodger officials said she underwent an appendectomy. Infielder Dave Anderson, meanwhile, who is hitting .120, has a pinched bursa in his shoulder and sat out the game.

Ex-Dodger Steve Sax made the trip and had one hit in four trips.


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