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Dodger Fans Should Be Anxious About Season

More on (bleeping) Mo Vaughn in a moment.

But first I bring you these encouraging words from new Dodger pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii: “If I have anxiety during the season, I won’t be able to win.”

My hope is they give the guy a locker right next to a glowering Kevin Brown, so we can all see what it would be like to have Don Knotts pitching for the Dodgers.

Come on, if there’s one place in baseball where a starting pitcher who can’t handle anxiety should not be playing, it’s in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. Just wait until Manager Jim Tracy comes to the mound to take the ball from Mr. Shaky and give it to the Dodgers’ closer-by-committee to try to preserve the win.

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There must be some real concern here for the Dodgers, because if this guy can’t handle anxiety, they can’t let him sit on the bench and go through the gut-wrenching experience of watching the team’s leadoff batter try to get on base.

For that matter, is there anything more nerve-racking in baseball than watching Eric Karros try to beat out a ground ball to avoid hitting into a double play?

Mr. Shaky could talk to his catcher, Paul Lo Duca, and get some reassurance, but reports from Florida indicate Lo Duca is walking around in a stupor muttering to himself: “I can’t believe Matt Herges is gone, I can’t believe Matt Herges is gone.”

It’s going to be very difficult for Ishii pitching with someone holding his hand--although it would explain why Chad Kreuter is still on the roster.

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Let’s face it, the Dodgers might have a greater need for a shrink than a closer this season.

According to spring training dispatches, Ishii pitched March 16 against a bunch of guys in New York Yankee uniforms and watched as Bobby Estalella, Marcus Thames and Scott Seabol went back-to-back-to-back hitting home runs off him and, while he probably had no idea who those guys were, neither do I.

This shook him up because he didn’t return to the mound again until Monday against a triple-A team wearing New York Met uniforms. One of those future Norfolk Tide-bound youngsters hit a homer off Ishii, which tells me whoever pitches batting practice for the Dodgers probably will be tougher to hit off than this guy.

I wonder how Tracy is dealing with his anxiety. If you include Mr. Shaky’s work against minor league players, he has a 7.45 earned-run average this spring; if you consider what he has done against major leaguers, it’s 11.12. He should do really well this September when everyone calls up their farmhands.

Ishii’s next appearance will come Sunday in Seattle, and I quote from the morning newspaper: “Ishii has had trouble controlling his nerves this spring, and the Dodgers hope an exhibition game in a major league stadium will help get him acclimated to the U.S.”

Let me get this straight: This guy was pitching before a few hundred laid-back fans in Florida, and had trouble controlling his nerves and getting acclimated to the U.S., but there’s a feeling now he might find himself in Seattle.

If he’s going to get acclimated to the U.S. in Seattle, he’s probably going to visit Starbucks, and then we’re really going to have a jittery pitcher on our hands.

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THE GOOD news just keeps on coming.... I see where the Dodgers are now talking about putting shortstop Cesar Izturis in the leadoff position down the road.

This is super, because he has a .294 on-base percentage in five minor league seasons, which will continue the Dodger tradition of starting games with an out.

Tom Goodwin was lousy as a leadoff man, and he has a career on-base percentage of .335--in the major leagues. Marquis Grissom, another automatic out, has a career on-base mark of .318. McKay Christensen stands at .319.

If Izturis doesn’t occupy the top spot, there’s talk Dave Roberts will--because he has a lifetime on-base percentage of .292.

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OK, SO now we know Vaughn reads Ross Newhan like everyone else, giving the New York Post an obscenity-charged response to Ross’ Sunday story in The Times that quoted Troy Percival: “We may miss Mo’s bat, but we won’t miss his leadership. Darin Erstad is our leader.”

I didn’t know Erstad was the leader of the team, because he’s always so moody and withdrawn. If he is the leader, though, where was he when the Angels finished the year losing 19 of 21?

Maybe an occasional cheery, “Let’s go get ‘em, guys,” might have made a difference.

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It’s also safe to say Percival’s no leader because he let Vaughn have it after he had left, and after checking to make sure the Angels won’t play the Mets this year.

As for Vaughn, and the 35 expletives he had for his former team and Percival, he’s going to have to do a lot more swearing to catch up to what Angel fans had to be muttering to themselves while watching him strike out every 3.7 at-bats.

The only way this thing is going to be settled is if the two face off in the World Series, which means Percival is going to have to be traded to another American League team.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in an e-mail from Makaveli:

“I’ve been greatly influenced by your writing style. I’m 17 years old and because of your inspiration I wrote an article for my school newspaper, and the next day was sent to the principal’s office. He told me in his 14 years at the school he had never read anything like that and he really let me have it. My name was removed from nomination as writer of the year, and it’s all thanks to you.”

Hey, kid, you got a sob story to tell, e-mail Plaschke.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com.


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