Gonzalez’s 40th birthday a little ‘crazy’

Times Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Luis Gonzalez turned 40 Monday, and a man who thought he had seen and heard everything in baseball was introduced to something new.

A woman was outside the Dodgers’ clubhouse claiming to be his mother.

Alarmed, Gonzalez phoned his mother. She was in Florida.

“Fans are crazy, but that was a first for me,” Gonzalez said.

Looking around the clubhouse, he said, “It was a first for a lot of these guys. They were laughing.”

The incident came at the end of a day in which Gonzalez was two for three with a walk and three runs in the Dodgers’ 11-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs. He also started a relay in the third inning that resulted in Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano’s being thrown out at the plate by Rafael Furcal.


Gonzalez, who recently expressed his frustration at seeing his playing time cut, said he felt appreciated Monday.

The bleacher bums at Wrigley Field, whom he played in front of in 1995-96, sang “Happy Birthday.” His teammates invited him out to dinner.

“It shows that they care about you,” said Gonzalez, who this season decorated Mike Lieberthal’s locker with balloons and bought Olmedo Saenz a cake when they made rare starts.

Gonzalez said he didn’t feel any dread turning 40. “I didn’t wake up feeling any different this morning,” he said.

He reiterated his desire to play a couple of more seasons, regardless of whether they are with the Dodgers. His two hits Monday left him 10 shy of 2,500.

Nomar Garciaparra could be activated today so he’d be available to pinch-hit.

Garciaparra said if he can run today without any pain, he intends to come off the disabled list. He said he last ran Saturday, after which he experienced swelling.


Garciaparra said he was willing to take a certain amount of risk to be part of the playoff hunt.

“I’ve already jeopardized my career so many times,” he said.

With the minor league season ending Monday, five players from triple-A Las Vegas were on their way to Chicago to join the Dodgers: pitchers Eric Stults and Eric Hull, outfielder Delwyn Young and infielders Tony Abreu and Wilson Valdez.

Stults, who was optioned to Las Vegas last week to make room for Esteban Loaiza, will start Wednesday’s series finale against the Cubs in place of the suspended David Wells.

Manager Grady Little remains hopeful that left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo could be back before the season ends.

Kuo threw from a mound Friday in San Diego for the first time since undergoing surgery on his left elbow. He threw 30 to 35 pitches, all fastballs, trainer Stan Conte said.

Kuo is scheduled to throw from a mound again today, mixing in changeups. If he comes out of the session fine, Conte said, the next steps will be to start throwing breaking balls and pitching to hitters.


“The most important thing for Kuo is to make sure his elbow is OK,” Conte said. “I’d like to see him come back by the end of the year, but that’s not as critical as making sure his elbow is sound.”

Wells will start for the Dodgers on Saturday in San Francisco. . . . Right-hander Chin-hui Tsao has been told by team physicians to “rest and rehab,” meaning he isn’t throwing and his season probably is over.