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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : DODGERS : Piazza Will Speak Up in Clubhouse

There are still a couple of pieces missing for the Dodgers, but a certain element of pride exists in the clubhouse that wasn’t there last spring. Most of it stems from the emergence of youth, with Mike Piazza showing the way.

Sunday at Vero Beach, Fla., Piazza hit two home runs in the Dodgers’ 12-11 loss to the Florida Marlins. That gives him five hits in eight at-bats, with four runs batted in, during the three spring games.

With Darryl Strawberry sidelined because of a stomach virus, Manager Tom Lasorda batted Piazza fourth. Also hitting home runs were Eric Karros and Dave Hansen, whose came as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. Henry Rodriguez, playing left field in place of Strawberry, knocked in three runs on two hits.

“Eric and I have talked about it, and we think we can step up and be a little bit of a leading presence on this club because we have established that we can play on this level,” Piazza said. “But on the same note, we have a lot of respect for the veterans on this club. We just have to go out and play hard right now. Maybe five, six years down the line we can take more of a presence in the clubhouse, but we still owe a tremendous amount of respect to Darryl, Tim Wallach, Orel (Hershiser), Kevin Gross and guys like that, guys who have that clubhouse presence, and Reggie Smith, who has come back on the staff.”

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Piazza said that Smith, the Dodgers’ former right fielder and new hitting instructor, is also helping. “Just having a Reggie Smith presence in the clubhouse has given us a little bit of an attitude--not a cocky thing, just a quiet self-confidence that we will be able to go out and hit some guys hard and intimidate a little this year,” Piazza said.

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There were 10 pitchers used and eight home runs hit--four by each team. . . . Park Chan Ho will make his first major league appearance today as a starter when the Dodgers travel to Port St. Lucie to play the New York Mets. Kevin Gross, who still has a little tenderness in his shoulder, was originally scheduled to pitch, but, instead, will follow Park. . . . Delino DeShields will have outpatient surgery today on his fractured cheekbone.


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