Dodgers eke out a 1-0 win, but Steve Garvey appears to be out of a job
The absurdity of the Dodgers’ situation came into particularly sharp focus Friday.
On the field, the last-place Dodgers edged the San Diego Padres, 1-0, to move to within one game of their offensively inept visitors.
On the phone from Arizona, a popular former player with his own well-documented history of financial troubles was saying that his public interest in purchasing the Dodgers had resulted in his dismissal from their front office.
“It doesn’t take away from my love for the team,” said Steve Garvey, a 10-time All-Star who won a World Series with the Dodgers in 1981 and played on the Padres’ 1984 World Series team.
Garvey, who was working in the Dodgers’ marketing and community relations department, said he was saddened by what had happened to the once-proud franchise. This was his 30th year with the organization and 15th in its front office.
Asked if he thought it was time for Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to let go of the team, Garvey replied, “Under the circumstances, obviously it is.”
Chad Billingsley, Rafael Furcal and Javy Guerra did what they could to shift the attention of their fans.
Billingsley pitched eight scoreless innings and Furcal drove in Trent Oeltjen with an eighth-inning single to lift the Dodgers to their second consecutive victory.
Guerra pitched his way into a bases-load, no-out jam in the ninth, but pitched out of it for his third save.
The win was Billingsley’s third in his last three starts.
What most pleased Manager Don Mattingly was how Billingsley won a game in which he wasn’t sharp early.
Mattingly said he asked catcher A.J. Ellis halfway through the game how Billingsley looked. “He was all over,” Mattingly recalled Ellis telling him.
Mattingly recently spoke to Billingsley about games such as these, about how he had to use his brain instead of his brawn to overcome substandard form.
As an example, Ellis pointed to the final pitch Billingsley threw, a changeup to Orlando Hudson with two on and two out in the eighth inning. Hudson grounded out.
“I just made pitches when I needed to,” Billingsley said.
The victory improved the Dodgers to 12 games under .500. The dismal state of the team prompted Garvey to come forward in December and talk about his interest in purchasing the club should it be put up for sale. He said he is particularly disappointed with the team’s inability to sign high-priced free agents.
He acknowledged that it was awkward for him to draw paychecks from McCourt while speaking publicly about a future without him.
Garvey said he met in January with then-chief operating officer Geoff Wharton, senior vice president Howard Sunkin and spokesmen Steve Sugarman and Josh Rawitch to set parameters about what he could say publicly.
He said he was instructed to point out the Dodgers weren’t for sale and to not disparage McCourt when speaking about his prospective ownership group.
“I think I stayed within those parameters,” Garvey said.
Garvey had two other meetings with club officials, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The most recent was two months ago.
Garvey made headlines in April when he said his group had the financial backing of billionaire Ron Burkle. He later acknowledged he didn’t have a firm commitment from Burkle.
Last month, 1988 World Series hero Orel Hershiser became part of the group.
On Friday, Garvey said he received a phone call from Dodgers general counsel Sam Fernandez informing him of his dismissal.
No longer on the Dodgers’ payroll, Garvey said the time for an ownership change had come.
“I think, probably, that’s the opinion of baseball,” Garvey said. “. . . It’s time for a change.”
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