DODGERS : Good Play Might Prove Costly

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Kevin Elster played impressive defense Saturday, but sprained his right shoulder doing it.

Elster, who replaced Jose Offerman at shortstop in the eighth inning against the New York Mets, dived for a ball and landed on the shoulder, which he has spent the spring rehabilitating after surgery.

"I wanted to make the catch," Elster said. "I jammed it a little bit."

Dr. Frank Jobe examined Elster after the game and said there seemed to be no affect on the repaired area, which Jobe operated on last May. "He has not broken down the surgery, and that is good news," Jobe said. "We will know more in the morning."

The Dodgers need to decide whether Elster will make the team before Tuesday or be forced to pay him his salary of $500,000.

"He showed us he can make the plays," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said. "But we haven't made the decision yet."

Elster stayed in the game despite the injury and had a single during the ninth inning. The Dodgers won, 6-3, at the Mets' camp at Port St. Lucie.

Brett Butler and Mitch Webster also suffered minor injuries. Butler said he "tweaked" his knee on soft ground during outfield warm-ups and aggravated it by playing four innings. Butler has tenderness over a tendon and Webster suffered a sprained ankle sliding into a base.

Todd Worrell, who made his exhibition debut Friday, went through his normal workout Saturday and said his shoulder responded well. He is scheduled to pitch an inning today when the Dodgers play the Montreal Expos in Vero Beach.

Ramon Martinez ran and is scheduled to pitch today in the triple-A game. Martinez, who suffered a strained hip covering first base during Wednesday's game, had a similar injury in 1991 after sliding into a base. "That injury hasn't been a problem since then," said Pat Screnar, the Dodgers' physical therapist. "We'll see how he feels after he pitches."

Left-hander Lee Guetterman, trying to win a spot in the bullpen, pitched a scoreless inning but still left Dodger officials wanting to see more before they decide whether to keep him. "He made eight pitches, but he pitched to all right-handers," pitching coach Ron Perranoski said. "We need to see him pitch to left-handers."

Mike Piazza, who hit into a bases-loaded double play during the sixth inning, hit a three-run homer during the eighth to put the Dodgers ahead, 6-2. . . . Darryl Strawberry had two singles, scored a run and drove one in. . . . Today's game will be televised at 10:05 a.m. on Channel 5.

The Freeway series is only two games this year because the Dodgers have to head back to Florida to open the regular season April 5 against the Marlins. Tom Candiotti will face the Angels' Mark Langston Friday night at Dodger Stadium and Pedro Astacio will face Chuck Finley Saturday night in Anaheim. All the Dodger starters except Butler will be among the split squad that travels back to Los Angeles. Butler lives in Atlanta.

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