Butler Examined Again


Brett Butler, scratched from the starting lineup after complaining of pain in his neck, raced home with the winning run on Tom Prince’s infield single with two out in the 15th to lift the Dodgers to a 3-2 victory over the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium on Monday night.

The Dodgers spent much of the day fearing the unknown, praying Butler’s visit to an ear, nose and throat specialist was just a routine examination that would discover nothing abnormal.

Butler arrived at Dodger Stadium by the third inning. He was diagnosed with a swollen lymph node that antibiotics may cure within a few days. There are no tests scheduled, although he’s expected to be examined again Wednesday.


The Dodgers finally put an end to the five-hour affair when Todd Zeile led off with a walk off Joe Crawford, who actually made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter. Butler grounded to third to force Zeile at second, but he beat the relay throw. Greg Gagne struck out, but Butler stole second.

Prince then hit what appeared to be a routine grounder to the right of first baseman John Olerud. Crawford was late covering first, and never touched the first-base bag. Yet, in the confusion, Crawford hung onto the ball while Butler raced home with the winning run.

Playing without Butler in the starting lineup for the first time this season, the Dodgers struggled offensively most of the game. Butler made his first appearance in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement for Billy Ashley. He is expected to return to the starting lineup tonight.

Butler may be two months shy of his 40th birthday, and still a bit frail after missing most of last season, but oh how the Dodgers desperately still need him.

“We don’t have any reason to believe that this is recurrence of cancer or anything related to it in any way,” said Dr. Michael Mellman. “This isn’t an earth-shattering event, but when you have something like Brett went through, it’s notable. Brett’s past is what magnifies this.”

The Dodgers appeared relieved with the diagnosis, particularly since the lymph node was on the left side of his neck, and not the right side where he underwent six weeks of radiation treatments. Mellman said it would be unusual for cancer to recur on the opposite side of his neck.


“That’s a big relief to all of us,” said Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president. “The fact that he had been examined by Dr. Mellman and his doctor in Atlanta, I didn’t see anything that was alarming.”

Butler, who underwent cancer surgery May 21 to remove a cancerous tumor and lymph nodes, had been given a clean bill of health during several follow-up examinations. Yet in recent days he has complained of soreness in his neck.

Butler telephoned his personal physician, Dr. Robert Gadlage, and was told it likely was salivary gland obstruction, a natural aftereffect of the radiation treatments. An appointment was scheduled today with Dr. John Rehn. Yet when Butler arrived early at Dodger Stadium and informed the trainers that his neck was more swollen then normal, they recommended moving up the appointment by a day.

When Butler arrived from Centinela Medical Center in the third inning, the Dodgers were deep into their offensive slumber. Met starter Mark Clark shut them down for seven innings, allowing only one runner to reach second.

In the sixth, Olerud hit a leadoff double, and one out later, Todd Hundley slammed Hideo Nomo’s 1-and-1 pitch for a home run deep into the right-field seats to put the Mets ahead, 2-0.

The Dodgers tied the score in the eighth on Todd Hollandsworth’s sacrifice fly and Raul Mondesi’s run-scoring groundball.


The Dodgers had runners on second and third with one out in the 12th, but Juan Castro struck out and Eric Karros flied to center.

They had the same situation in the 13th. This time, Prince grounded to third, forcing Zeile out at the plate, and Wilton Guerrero struck out.