Pitcher Orel Hershiser, who has not heard from the Dodgers since they declined to offer him a contract two months ago, predicts that many of his peers will be permanently unemployed when the baseball strike ends.
"I think you're going to see a lot of guys who might consider retiring if this thing goes much longer," Hershiser said. "And you're going to see guys who are forced into retirement. I could see at least two or three guys on each club who are gone when this over.
"You just don't know what's going to happen to the fourth and fifth outfielders and the 10th and 11th pitchers on teams. Clubs are taking a pretty good financial hit through this, and they may decide to take a young guy making $115,000 instead of a veteran making $600,000-$800,000.
"The teams that fall further and further from first place, you're going to see a lot of that."
Hershiser, 36, plans to continue pitching. He has had serious talks with two or three teams--among them the Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants--and expects to pick one when the strike ends.
"My concern right now is with the industry," he said. "I've been well provided throughout my career so that if I was forced into retirement, I'd be fine. I'm not saying that to be antagonistic, but it's a reality."
Hershiser, who pitched 16 years in the Dodger organization and is on the union's negotiating team, shared his views on a season about to open without major leaguers:
--On the major league managers who have enthusiastically embraced replacement baseball, such as Tom Lasorda of the Dodgers and Terry Collins of the Houston Astros: "There have been a couple of managers brought up in our meetings. These managers receive licensing and pension benefits from us, and we know they're in a tough place, but we just asked them to be neutral.
"The guy in Dodgertown has not been. Everybody remembers how Tommy made them feel so special when they made it to the big leagues, and we just don't think these (replacement players) should be made to feel the same way."
--On whether the replacement players will be ostracized when the strike ends: "I know management is saying they'll stand behind them and protect them, but I don't see how. People will want to join the players' side when this is over because they're the revenue producers. They're not going to want to upset the players. They'll want 25 guys going in the same direction, not some guys who'll refuse to take a team picture because they won't be photographed with scabs.
"I'm not saying that with great animosity, but just predicting the future. Believe me, those guys will not be forgotten. The media will make sure of that. It'll become part of their bio, just like asking a guy what college he came from."
--On why no picketing or protests have taken place in spring: "It's just not the right way to do things. It's hard for players to go out and picket and do things like that. And it's illegal to harass them.
"So why make their lives miserable now? Believe me, they're no threat to us."