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Radinsky Can’t Close Game, Russell Can’t Close Sentence

Scott Radinsky sat alone in the Dodger dugout, still in uniform more than an hour after Sunday’s game. It could be he had taken a sudden interest in the ground crew’s work as it manicured the infield, but it’s more likely he was staring vacantly into space.

Maybe it was the space beyond the right-field wall where Cincinnati’s Reggie Sanders had hit the game-tying home run in the ninth inning or behind first base where Dmitri Young’s double had fallen after deflecting off Eric Karros’ glove to drive in the winning run in the Reds’ 6-5 victory.

The Dodgers were stunned, losing for the third game in a row at home to the Reds and for the second time in less than 48 hours after Radinsky, the closer, failed to close. On Friday night, he gave up four two-out singles as the Reds rallied to tie in the ninth, eventually winning in 12.

“Everybody struggles,” Radinsky said when finally found by reporters, who had stood vigil by his locker until learning he was camped on the bench. “I’ve struggled before. It’s more magnified now.

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“The sun is going to shine tomorrow. It’s California. I’ve been through a lot worse, man.”

Don’t blame Radinsky. He’s an effective left-handed set-up man who has been forced into the closer’s role because. . .

Let Bill Russell say it.

“We don’t have a. . . ,” the Dodger manager said after Sunday’s game, catching himself just short of candor. “We lost our closer in [Todd] Worrell.”

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When asked if Radinsky should have been pitching when the Reds were set to send three right-handed hitters to the plate, Russell responded testily. What was he supposed to do, leave right-handed reliever Antonio Osuna in the game after he had given up a two-run home run to Bret Boone in the eighth?

“Who else are you going to put in there?” Russell said. “This is our closer. This is all we’ve got. You deal with what you have.”

What the Dodgers could have had was Rod Beck, Randy Myers or Roberto Hernandez. They were available through free agency during the winter, but Fred Claire was under strict orders to hold the bottom line until the sale of the team to Rupert Murdoch was approved.

The Dodgers since have added to their payroll even while subtracting Mike Piazza by acquiring Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson and Jim Eisenreich and are eager to spend more by trading for Randy Johnson.

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With all due respect to Johnson, the Dodgers don’t need another starter as much as they need a closer.

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Day 4: The Dodgers Held Hostage. . . .

Even the fans at Dodger Stadium are on edge, wondering whether the Dodgers will trade for Johnson, and, if so, which players they will have to send to Seattle. . . .

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Late in Saturday’s loss to the Reds, Dodger coach Mark Cresse ran excitedly from his usual post in the bullpen to the dugout, creating a buzz among Dodger fans who figured he must have news of a Johnson trade. . . .

As it turns out, he merely was in a hurry to give the Dodgers news of his son Brad’s home run for LSU in the College World Series against USC. . . .

Cresse is in Omaha today for LSU’s game against Mississippi State. . . .

Remember Mike Piazza? . . .

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You can’t forget if you go to Dodger Stadium. Although concessionaires no longer offer Piazza key chains, posters or autographed baseballs, you can still buy jerseys, T-shirts and banners with his name on them. . . .

The Dodgers are 8-7 without Piazza. . . .

The Mets are 7-0 with him. . . .

Furthermore, the Mets estimate his presence generated $840,000 extra in ticket sales, parking and concessions during his first two games at Shea Stadium. . . .

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Watching a documentary on the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers with Tom Lasorda on Sunday on the Classic Sports Network was almost like being there. . . .

The sound on the television in the Dodger press box was turned off, but you didn’t need it with Lasorda providing commentary. . . .

“Everybody talks about Tony Perez not being in the Hall of Fame, but what about Gil Hodges?” Lasorda said. “That’s a crime.” . . .

They had virtually identical careers. Perez hit .279 with 379 home runs and 1,652 RBI in 23 seasons. Hodges hit .273 with 370 home runs and 1,274 RBI in 18 seasons. . . .

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The tie-breaker? Hodges managed the ’69 Mets.

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While wondering if Raul Mondesi is on the verge of becoming the National League’s best center fielder, I was thinking: The Dodgers are the strongest they’ve been up the middle defensively since they had Steve Yeager, Dave Lopes, Russell and Rick Monday, a Johnson and Johnson battery would be about as good as it gets, absence makes the heart grow fonder for Worrell.


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