DODGERS : Sharperson to Be Used in More Utility Roles

TIMES STAFF WRITER

How did the lone All-Star on a team that lost 99 games last season lose his starting job before camp opened?

Mike Sharperson wants to know, too, but so far this spring he has not kicked down the manager's door or filed a lawsuit.

Sharperson, who made an All-Star effort out of utility work, started 72 games for the Dodgers last season, 39 at third base and 33 at second.

He batted .300, a career high, and was looking forward to 1993 until the Dodgers pulled the plug on utility man.

On Nov. 17, the team acquired veteran second baseman Jody Reed in a trade.

On Christmas Eve, they traded for a Tim Wallach, a veteran third basemen.

Sharperson was reduced to a humility man.

"I could be . . . off at the moves they made," he said recently. "But that's not going to do me any good."

Instead, Sharperson became more versatile. He dropped about 20 pounds through diet and exercise in the off-season and broke in a few new gloves.

Have infield, will travel: Friday, in West Palm Beach, he played first base in relief of Eric Karros.

Saturday at Ft. Lauderdale, he relieved Jose Offerman at short.

Sunday, at Vero Beach, he played second base.

Sharperson is quick to remind that he started his career as an outfielder.

"Whatever it's going to take for us to win, that's basically what I'll do," he said. "We have a great group of guys to play with."

Sharperson, 31, acknowledged he was initially upset at the off-season moves.

"In the back of my mind I do think, 'I did make the All-Star team, I think I deserve an opportunity to play,' " he said. "Unfortunately, that's not the situation, so I have to make the best of it."

Reliever Todd Worrell is expected to throw on the side again today. He has not yet appeared in a game because of tendinitis in his pitching shoulder. While this may appear a repeat of last spring and reliever Jay Howell, who ended up on the DL, the Dodgers think Worrell will be ready to be the closer on Opening Day.

The Mets scored four runs in the ninth inning Sunday to beat the Dodgers, 6-3, but it didn't spoil the day for Darryl Strawberry, who hit a two-run homer in the third against his former team as he continues to rebound strongly from back surgery. Shortly after the Sept. 15 operation, Strawberry remembers trying to walk around the hospital room. "It was a scary thing," he said. "I felt like I'd never play again, that I'd never walk like a normal person." . . . Eric Davis, who developed a stiff shoulder while standing through Saturday's wind-fest at Ft. Lauderdale, took Sunday's game off.

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