Lasorda hides his pain since son's death


PHILADELPHIA -- The strain of a losing streak showed in Tom Lasorda's eyes. The strain of a long ordeal was evident, too, on the face of the 63-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers manager.

If the past week has been a rough one for Lasorda, the past two months have been even more difficult. Losing games means nothing in the face of losing a son.

It has been seven weeks since Tom Lasorda Jr., a 33-year-old artist, died of pneumonia and severe dehydration.

"Tommy may hide it, but the pain is there," said Dodgers pitcher John Candelaria, whose young son drowned five years ago. "The pain is always there. It's a great loss for him. It's his son."

He has spoken little about the tragedy, and few players had known that Lasorda's son was ill until after he died. Some say that as time goes on, he will talk about it more.

But not yet.

"I believe he's still mourning," said Candelaria.

Lasorda said last week in Philadelphia that he didn't want to burden his players with his problems, saying, "It's tough enough just going out there to play."

Center fielder Brett Butler said the players drew strength from their manager, and he from them. "I think it goes hand in hand," Butler said. "Tommy needs the Dodgers, and the Dodgers need Tommy.

"During the time of the struggle, he needed to come to the ballpark. But he is a rock. He might need us to lift him up spiritually or emotionally, but he doesn't allow himself to be lifted."

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