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Johnson, Lasorda ignore rumors about job security


LOS ANGELES -- Baltimore hasn't cornered the market on managerial intrigue. Both of the managers in the best-of-five series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds )) have heard their job security questioned, even as they guided their teams to division championships.

Reds manager Davey Johnson has been considered a lame duck since the season began. The word around Cincinnati was that owner Marge Schott had promised the job in 1996 to coach Ray Knight, though it would be hard to replace one of the winningest managers in the history of the game if the Reds fight their way into the World Series.

bTC How does Johnson deal with that?

"I don't answer questions about it," he said during last night's pre-game press conference. "I've got plenty on my plate right now. Next year is light-years away."

Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda has heard similar talk. He always appears to be a year away from retirement, with anyone from coach Bill Russell to minor-league manager Rick Dempsey set to take his place.

"That has never entered my mind," he said. "I really love this job. But I'll do whatever Peter [owner Peter O'Malley] wants me to do. Nobody loves the Dodgers organization more than I do."

Somebody asked him -- partly in jest -- what he would do if Peter wanted him to manage the Orioles.

"That's a different Peter," Lasorda said. "I work for St. Peter, not that other guy."

Dodgers at a disadvantage

Give the Dodgers credit for coming to play. Third baseman Tim Wallach played down the stretch with a torn ligament in his knee and outfielder Raul Mondesi needed just one day to get back from torn knee cartilage. Mondesi was carried off the field on a stretcher Friday night, but came back Saturday to hit a two-run home run in the club's title-clinching victory over the San Diego Padres.

Reds pitching

Johnson plans to throw three straight left-handers at the Dodgers. John Smiley will go in Game 2 tonight and David Wells is scheduled to pitch the first game at Riverfront Stadium on Friday. That should come as no surprise, since Smiley and first-game starter Pete Schourek were a combined 4-0 (with a 1.72 ERA) against L.A. during the regular season. Wells has never faced the Dodgers.

If there is a Game 4, Johnson said that right-hander Mark Portugal likely would get the assignment.

Call him Ismael

Someone asked for a comparison between Game 2 starter Ismael Valdes and another young Mexican pitcher who became very popular at Dodger Stadium.

"Fernando Valenzuela was a great pitcher," Lasorda said. "This young man has great stuff, too. Within two years, this young man is going to be one of the best young pitchers in baseball. He has tremendous equipment. He just has to learn to eliminate mistakes."

Valdez was 13-11 during the regular season and held opposing batters to a .228 batting average, but pitching mistakes cost him a chance to be one of the top winners in the league.

Lasorda gets a bundle

Lasorda had a special day off. His daughter Laura gave birth to a baby girl on Monday afternoon. Emily Tess Goldberg, 6 pounds and 7 ounces of her, is the first grandchild for the proud Dodgers manager.

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