Like a Good Neighbor, Grissom Right There


Marquis Grissom took the clubhouse dressing stall that Devon White had used, beginning his Dodger career where White’s ended.

The outfielder joined the club Tuesday from the Milwaukee Brewers as compensation for White, who’d asked for the trade. The Dodgers will also get a minor leaguer to be determined.

A procession of players welcomed the 11-year veteran, who actually wants to be a Dodger.

Grissom is expected to be a backup outfielder, but he might have a bigger role in the clubhouse.


Players, coaches and baseball officials said Grissom, 33, had been a positive influence on teammates in Atlanta, Cleveland, Montreal and Milwaukee, and the Dodgers hope to be added to the list.

Grissom already has his first project, counseling disgruntled left fielder and longtime friend Gary Sheffield, who also wants to be traded. They dress next to each other, and Grissom plans to be a good neighbor.

“If I can be of any help to him, I will be, just like I would be with any of my teammates,” said Grissom, who has known Sheffield for almost 15 years. “I guess it’s a little different because of how far I go back with him, but I always want to help all my teammates.

“If there’s a problem on the team, I just feel you have to address it to correct it. When you’re on a team, you’re in a family. You’re part of one big family, and you have to talk about things in a family. That’s just the way it is.”

With 14 siblings, Grissom knows about big-family dynamics.

Sheffield voiced his desire to be traded after, he claims, Chairman Bob Daly botched the player’s request to become a “lifetime Dodger” and then “set out to bury” him nationwide.

The dispute has cast a shadow over Dodgertown, and everyone who cares is wondering how it will be resolved, although team officials say the squabble has not been a distraction.


Grissom said he has not been with the Dodgers long enough to comment specifically on the situation, but he spoke on the importance of team unity.

“You have to have everyone pulling in the same direction,” he said. “It makes it easier when everyone is pulling on the same end of the rope, but there’s more to it than that.

“When you’re living with each other day in and day out, everyone needs to know that no one else is more important than anyone else. You have to be 25 guys all going in one direction.”

Grissom hopes Sheffield’s situation will be resolved soon.

“This is a guy who has played in the big leagues for [12] years, who knows how to play the game, who cares about his teammates and who wants to win,” Grissom said. “He loves the game and he’s a guy who you want to have on your team.”

The Dodgers are pleased that Grissom is on their team.

“He’s a great guy,” first baseman Eric Karros said. “You can ask anybody, no one has anything but positives to say about him.

“He’s a team guy, he plays hard every day, and he’s excited about coming here and playing here.”



The Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and New York Yankees, the three clubs on Sheffield’s wish list, are in a holding pattern because of the Dodgers’ asking price.

The Dodgers want catcher Javy Lopez from the Braves, a multiplayer package from the Mets that would include center fielder Jay Payton, and outfielder David Justice in a Yankee deal.

The perception is that the price will drop as opening day approaches because of Sheffield’s strong criticism of the organization--Daly in particular.

The club could experience a public-relations nightmare if Sheffield remained in Los Angeles, although the Dodgers insist they will not give away the six-time all-star.

If the right deal is not offered, the Dodgers are considering keeping Sheffield.

Daly was scheduled to return here from Los Angeles late Tuesday, and he will probably meet with Sheffield.

But many Dodger officials and players have been unable to get Sheffield to change his stance, and although he has stopped commenting, he has reiterated his desire to leave to friends.


Sheffield believes he has been wronged and it might take a public apology from Daly to affect a reconciliation, if that’s what Daly wants.

It seems unlikely that Daly will apologize, considering Sheffield has four years and $41 million remaining on his six-year, $61-million deal and, in the club’s opinion, ignited the controversy with his extension request.


The club is strongly considering carrying three catchers on the opening-day roster because Angel Pena is out of options.

Pena, the organization’s 1998 minor league player of the year, had fallen into disfavor because of his bad attitude, poor work ethic and weight problems.

Paul LoDuca moved ahead of him at triple-A Albuquerque last season, and LoDuca and 10-year veteran Chad Kreuter were expected to share the catching job.

But the Dodgers fear that Pena, who turned 26 Feb. 16, would not clear waivers, meaning they would lose him without compensation.


Kreuter is expected to play when Darren Dreifort and Chan Ho Park pitch, leaving LoDuca and Pena to work with Andy Ashby, Kevin Brown and Ramon Martinez.


Dreifort, Park and closer Jeff Shaw pitched in a 10-inning intrasquad game.

“Shaw looked like he could save a playoff game today, the way he was throwing,” Manager Jim Tracy said.