Wilton Guerrero has a new nickname. His teammates call him Corky.
He takes the good-natured ribbing with a smile.
But inside, Guerrero has been hurting. His eight-game suspension for using a corked bat, which ended Tuesday night, was a painful experience for the 22-year-old rookie.
Unable to suit up, he would sit alone in the stands and watch. It wasn’t any fun.
“I don’t like watching,” Guerrero decided.
But he accepted his punishment without complaining, without excuses, without any apparent bitterness.
“You make a mistake,” he said, “you’ve got to pay.”
Perhaps the hardest part was explaining to those he left behind in the Dominican Republic why his promising rookie season had come to a temporary halt.
“They kept asking me, ‘Why?’ ” he said.
His manager, Bill Russell, was wondering the same thing.
“He is one of the last guys you would think it would happen to,” Russell said. “It’s always been the bigger, stronger guys who used corked bats.
“But I’m sure you won’t see that again from him.”
With the start of interleague play Thursday, Manager Bill Russell said that, as of Tuesday night, he hadn’t decided who’ll be the first designated hitter in Dodger history. But Mike Piazza is most likely. . . . Right-hander Darren Dreifort, recovering from tendinitis of the right elbow, made his first rehabilitation appearance Tuesday night, pitching three innings for Albuquerque against Phoenix. Dreifort gave up no runs and one hit.
With the start of interleague play Thursday, Russell said that, as of Tuesday night, he hadn’t decided who’ll be the first designated hitter in Dodger history. But catcher Mike Piazza is most likely.
“He’s an ideal candidate,” Russell said, “because it would give him some time off.”
It would also give Russell a chance to use Tom Prince, an excellent defensive catcher who has appeared in only 14 games.
With four consecutive games on American League turf in Oakland and Seattle, where the DH rule will be in effect, Russell plans to spread the assignment around.
Right-hander Darren Dreifort, recovering from tendinitis of the right elbow, made his first rehabilitation appearance Tuesday night, pitching three innings for Albuquerque in a triple-A game at Phoenix. Dreifort gave up no runs and one hit, striking out two with no walks in 27 pitches.
DODGERS’ CHAN HO PARK (4-3, 2.96 ERA) vs. ASTROS’ MIKE HAMPTON (2-4, 5.87 ERA)
Dodger Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
TV--Fox Sports West 2. Radio--KABC (790), KWKW (1330).
* UPDATE: This is the finale of an eight-game home stand to be followed by a historic trip to Oakland and Seattle, where the Dodgers will play American League clubs for the first time during the regular season. Park is the only Dodger starter with an earned-run average below 3.00, though his ERA in his 10 starts is 3.16. Park has been stung by the home-run ball, having given up a team-high 11 in 67 innings. Opponents are batting .219 against Park, placing him seventh in the league. Hampton is 0-4 with a 6.25 ERA on the road. But he is 2-1 in his career against the Dodgers. Astro first baseman Jeff Bagwell has 163 home runs, tying him for third on the Astros’ all-time list with Cesar Cedeno. Ahead of Bagwell are Glenn Davis (166) and Jimmy Wynn (223).