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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : DODGERS : Rookie Dreifort Is a Quick Learner

Right-hander Darren Dreifort pitched in his first game as a Dodger Sunday at Vero Beach, Fla. And even though it was merely an intrasquad game, he pitched impressively enough to earn great reviews from both pitching coach Ron Perranoski and catcher Mike Piazza.

“He’s got a great slider and I know it’s still early, but he’s right there,” Piazza said. “He has been working on a pitch, the curveball, and he threw it for the double play--that was impressive.”

Dreifort came into camp with an impressive sinking fastball, but no curveball. Perranoski started teaching Dreifort a curveball about five days ago, along with working on the arm angle in his delivery. Dreifort has already shown improvement in both.

“His arm angle was very consistent today and his fastball away to a right-handed hitter is virtually unhittable,” Perranoski said. “He looked good.”

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Dreifort, 21, was a reliever at Wichita State, but might have been changed to a starter had he not chosen to sign with the Dodgers as the club’s top draft pick in 1993. “It doesn’t matter to me what I do, as long as I pitch,” he said. “I had never thrown to Piazza before, and I was confident in what he was calling. He’s a big target.”

Dreifort pitched two innings in relief for the regulars, giving up one run on one hit. Tim Wallach hit a home run against John DeSilva to win the game, 3-2. *

Darryl Strawberry is hitless in two intrasquad games, but he says that won’t happen after Friday, when the Dodgers’ exhibition season begins against the New York Mets. “I just can’t get motivated to hit against my own pitchers,” he said. . . . Billy Ashley had X-rays on a strained left wrist and they were negative. . . . Kevin Gross, who has mild tendinitis in his right shoulder, threw from the mound and is continuing to show improvement. . . . The Waseda University baseball team from Japan has been staying at Dodgertown this spring at the invitation of Dodger President Peter O’Malley. They plan to travel to Los Angeles and play games March 2 against USC and March 3 against Cal State Fullerton before returning to Japan.


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