Wind of Change Seems to Be Taking Its Toll
After enjoying decades of stability under the stewardship of the O’Malley family, the Dodgers are undergoing unsettling change in their first year as part of the Fox Group.
Pitcher Hideo Nomo, once considered untouchable, was the most recent Dodger to be sent packing, which underscores the dramatic shift in the organization’s philosophy.
“There has been a lot of stuff going on, that’s obvious,” Manager Bill Russell said. “There have been a lot of distractions the last few days, and we understand that this is part of what happens when you’re trying to do some of the things we’re trying to do.
“Does this sort of thing take a toll on everyone? Of course it does. But you still have to do your job.”
That’s easier said than done at Chavez Ravine these days.
Even media relations director Derrick Hall, whose flawless impressions of team officials helps to lighten the mood in the Dodger workplace, appeared drained after Monday’s action. Hall has become accustomed to effectively conducting tense news conferences.
Longtime Dodger employees are still stunned by the May 15 trade of former franchise player Mike Piazza. The other shoe dropped with Nomo on Monday.
And the question now is: What’s next?
Fred Claire, executive vice president, is close to acquiring Randy Johnson from the Seattle Mariners, sources said, and that deal could be announced today.
That would help, Russell said.
“Randy Johnson would make any pitching staff better, and it would be great if we could get him,” he said. “But it would also help to get the situation resolved one way or another, because we have to get our house together and get going on the field.”
Former owner Peter O’Malley was saddened by Nomo’s departure from the organization. Nomo is a favorite of O’Malley, who played a key role in the pitcher signing with the team as a free agent from Japan in 1995.
But he doesn’t expect the loss of Nomo to effect the Dodgers’ large Asian-American fan base.
“I don’t view this as a setback,” he said. “Nomo felt it would be better for him in a different environment, and I think the fans will understand that.”
For now, left-hander Dennis Reyes will occupy Nomo’s spot in the starting rotation. In five relief appearances, Reyes is 0-1 with a 4.82 earned-run average.
* Opponent--St. Louis Cardinals, three games.
* Site--Dodger Stadium.
* TV--Fox Sports West 2 tonight and Wednesday, Fox Sports West Thursday.
* Radio--AM 1150, KWKW (1330).
* Records--Dodgers 27-29, Cardinals 28-27.
* 1997 record vs. Cardinals--0-2.
DODGERS’ DARREN DREIFORT (3-4, 3.45 ERA)
CARDINALS’ KENT MERCKER (4-3, 5.66 ERA)
* Update--Dreifort will start unless he has been traded to Seattle in a deal for Johnson. That’s the way things have been going with the Dodgers lately. Dreifort is 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA in his last three starts. Mark McGwire left with back spasms in the first inning Monday against the San Diego Padres. His status is listed as day-to-day.
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.--Ramon Martinez (6-2, 2.82) vs. Mark Petkovsek (3-1, 4.19).
Thursday, 4:30 p.m.--Chan Ho Park (4-3, 5.03) vs. Juan Acevedo (1-1, 4.60).