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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : DODGERS : Gwynn Has Been a Forgotten Man

The question that haunts the Dodgers’ best pinch-hitter is the question that crossed the minds of everyone who saw Eric Karros pinch-hitting in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants Saturday.

What happened to Chris Gwynn?

“I’m still here,” Gwynn confirmed Saturday after remaining on the bench for a 10th consecutive game. “I’m just walking around, waiting for a chance.”

Gwynn was one of the Dodgers’ heroes earlier in the season, getting 13 pinch-hits, only two short of the Los Angeles record shared by Manny Mota and Ed Goodson. But he has not had a pinch-hit since Aug. 28, and has been used in only six pinch appearances since Sept. 1 after getting 47 in the previous five months.

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It’s not that the Dodgers are avoiding Gwynn, who is batting .250 with two homers and 13 runs batted in as a pinch-hitter. But lately teams are saving their left-handers for late innings, partially to keep Gwynn on the bench.

Even though Mitch Webster was batting eight points higher against left-handed pitching, the Giants brought in Dave Righetti to face him in the eighth inning Saturday. Righetti also faced Karros.

“You have a guy like Karros, basically he doesn’t know . . . he’s inexperienced . . . but they took a chance with him and it worked (Karros walked),” said Gwynn, who is hitless in nine at-bats against left-handers. “But I would like to face left-handers some time. I think that’s how you improve.”

The presence of Mike Morgan in a Dodger uniform is a tribute to the Dodgers’ renowned major league scouting system, which should not be confused with their amateur scouting department.

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Morgan, who has a four-game winning streak and ranks among league leaders with a 2.79 earned-run average, will be starting against the Giants today in the final of a three-game series.

Shortly before Morgan was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder Mike Devereaux on March 11, 1989, the Dodgers wanted to obtain a final confirmation of his ability. Fred Claire, Dodger vice president, and two scouts traveled to Port St. Lucie, Fla., to watch him in a ‘B’ spring game.

A rainstorm moved through the area, but Claire and his scouts didn’t leave. Soon, they were the only ones in the stands.

“Later on, when somebody who had seen us there asked if the Dodgers were interested in Morgan, what could I say?” Claire said. “When the only three people at a ‘B’ game are three guys from the Dodgers sitting under an umbrella with a radar gun, your intentions are obvious.”

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After reading that Mitch Webster receives pregame inspiration from watching reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show,” actor Don Knotts met Webster after Friday’s game. . . . Fred Claire said he was pushing for the National League office to require an early pregame inspection of any pitching mound that has been inserted after a recent football game on the same field. This is because Tim Belcher might have pulled a groin muscle two weeks ago because of the mound at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, where the Cincinnati Bengals played the previous night. . . . According to several relief pitchers, stadium workers have fixed the sewer near the bullpen so the smell is not nearly so bad. “Actually smells sort of good,” Jim Gott said.


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