Mike Brito called Fernando Valenzuela recently to say thank you. . . .
“You’re making me look good,” the Dodger scout told the pitcher he discovered 15 years ago in the Mexican Rookie League. “I kept telling everybody that you weren’t finished. Now they believe me.” . . .
Valenzuela, whose comeback attempt with the Baltimore Orioles appeared as though it would end soon after it began, has won four consecutive games and compiled an earned-run average of 0.65 in his last 41 2/3 innings. . . .
Would you believe that he has a lower ERA than Roger Clemens? . . .
“Fernando looked very good to me in the Caribbean World Series last winter,” Brito said. “He had his confidence back. His shoulder wasn’t bothering him anymore. It was able to heal without surgery. He had command of all his pitches.” . . .
Valenzuela is relying on a pitch he rarely threw during the glory days, a cut fastball that darts inside to right-handed batters. . . .
“Fernando never shows much emotion, but he sounded happy when we talked on the phone,” Brito said. “He was very positive.” . . .
Valenzuela, who was released by the Dodgers on March 28, 1991, claims he is 32 and Brito is one of the few who believe him. . . .
“I saw his birth certificate in Mexico,” Brito said. “It said he was born Nov. 1, 1960. He always has looked old. You should have seen him at 17 with long hair and no teeth. People think I’m crazy, but I think Fernando can pitch six, eight more years. He reminds me of Luis Tiant, who had a bad shoulder before he came back to have some of his best years.” . . .
I’m glad I wasn’t on the plane with the Angels coming home from New York Sunday night. . . .
Tony La Russa’s abortive tag-team pitching rotation enhanced my feeling that he over-manages. . . .
In Sunday’s American League statistics, the Boston Red Sox were the only team with an ERA lower than 4.00. From 1966-68, no team in the league had an ERA as high as 4.00. . .
Yogi Berra is making good on his vow never to return to Yankee Stadium for Old-Timers Day as long as George Steinbrenner owns the team. Berra didn’t appreciate being fired as manager in 1985 after only 16 games. . . .
The Dodger media notes Saturday listed the probable pitchers for Wednesday’s game in San Francisco as Tom Candiotti (5-5) vs. Undecided (0-0). . . .
Senor Balk: Pedro Astacio has five of the Dodgers’ 11 balks this season. . . .
With the Sharks moving operations to their new arena in San Jose, there is talk of an International Hockey League franchise playing at the Cow Palace in San Francisco next season. . . .
Thumbs up to Bruce McNall for giving King Coach Barry Melrose a much-deserved raise. . . .
Trainer Brian Mayberry didn’t make the world’s greatest jockey colony happy Saturday morning when he told Roger Stein on “Trackside” on XTRA radio that riders lose races, but don’t win them. . . .
Consolidation of the public relations departments is the latest example of the unprecedented cooperation between Hollywood Park and Santa Anita. . . .
If you think baseball games take too long, consider that the card at Hollywood Park Saturday, including 10 live races and two simulcast, lasted nearly six hours. . . .
The Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles has given L.A. County an emergency grant of $20,000 to allow 33 pools to continue providing swimming lessons this summer for underprivileged kids. . . .
Scotty Olson, one of the most exciting regulars on Bob Arum’s ESPN series, will make his Forum debut tonight against Silverio Porras in a 10-round flyweight bout. . . .
Olson is managed by Bruce (The Mouse) Strauss, the former junior-middleweight “opponent” who, according to one record-keeper, had a career mark of 77-59-7. Most prolific loser still active is Simmie Black, a lightweight out of Memphis who is 35-144-4. . . .
George Foreman, tempted to fight one more time, has lucrative offers for bouts in Japan and China. . . .
Surprise: Brigham Young is the media choice to win the Western Athletic Conference football title. Fresno State is rated second and San Diego State, with Heisman Trophy favorite Marshall Faulk, third. . . .
The Green Bay Packers signed Lewis (Ron) and cut Clark (Louis) Friday. . . .
You know which professional football league the Sacramento Gold Miners play in when one of the game statistics is listed as “total offence.”