BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : DODGERS : So Far, Mondesi Has Really Been a Hit

Raul Mondesi, the Dodgers' unofficial opening day right fielder, had three singles in four at-bats against the Kansas City Royals Saturday at Haines City, increasing his batting average to .341.

His ability to hit has been noticed.

"Usually you can throw fastballs by hitters in the spring,"Bret Saberhagen of the New York Mets said. "But (mythical fastballer) Syd Finch couldn't throw a fastball past Mondesi. He's got some quick hands, Mondesi."

Though Manager Tom Lasorda has gone to great lengths not to publicly award Mondesi the starting job over last season's starter, Cory Snyder, who has been injured all spring, Mondesi sounds ready to assume the role.

"I've got more confidence," Mondesi said. "They told me two months ago in the Dominican that I could win the job. That gave me confidence. I do the job, they have to give me a chance, right?"

Said Lasorda: "I told him he could win the job--maybe he didn't understand my Spanish. I told him the way our outfield was shaping up, he'd have a real chance. Before, it was a little bit different."

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Pedro Astacio, whom Lasorda has said is behind schedule, made his second start of the spring and gave up a three-run home run to Mike Macfarlane in the first inning, keying the Royals' 5-3 victory. Astacio gave up four earned runs, walked five and threw two wild pitches in five innings. His earned-run average is 8.00. Lasorda said that of the five projected starters, Kevin Gross is also behind schedule.

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