A fan approached Carlos Diaz at Dodgertown last month, wanting to take his photograph. "Are you the new Dodger pitcher?" the fan asked. "That's what they say in the papers," Diaz answered. The newspapers also say that some people, most notably Brave owner Ted Turner, believe the bullpen will be the underbelly of the Dodgers this season. But don't bet next month's cable payment on it.
Diaz is already being called "Buenos" by some of his teammates, and he should mean good days for the Dodgers and good-night to opponents. Diaz was acquired from the Mets to replace Steve Howe (supended for the entire '84 season for his involvement with cocaine) as the club's lefthanded short reliever. A native of Oahu, Diaz came to L.A. in the first trade that ever involved two Hawaiians, the Dodgers sending pitcher Sid Fernandez to the Mets.
In 1983 Diaz made 54 appearances and had a 3-1 record and a 2.05 ERA but only two saves, the Mets preferring Jesse Orosco as their stopper. The Dodgers hope Diaz will be their Orosco. "I like his attitude," says Dodger pitching coach Ron Perranoski, who knows something about relieving. "He's the type of kid who wants the ball all the time." When Diaz doesn't get it, Tom Niedenfuer will.
L.A.'s starting infield made more errors—94—than any other in the majors. Second baseman Steve Sax had 30, most of them errant throws. But he finished the season with 38 straight errorless games. The difference? "A cortisone shot," he says. "I couldn't lift my arm to dry my hair, I was in so much pain." The infield defense will be stronger, if only because Pedro Guerrero has returned to rightfield after making 30 errors at third last year. Rightfield opened up when the Dodgers released Dusty Baker and shifted Mike Marshall to left. Guerrero will be replaced at third by surprising rookie German Rivera, who was hitting .262 through last Sunday. The Dodgers had planned to play either Candy Maldonado or Terry Whitfield in right, but through Sunday they were batting .171 and .157, respectively. Whitfield hit 38 honruidas in Japan last year but only one in Florida. Last season Marshall and rookie first baseman Greg Brock had to answer questions about their hitting—and did. Sort of. They hit .311 and .279, respectively, following the All-Star break.
The Dodgers should repeat as Western Division champs. At least, that's what they say in the papers.
L.A. pitchers gave up only 97 homers while L.A. hitters slugged 146, giving the club a big league-leading plus of 49. Although Ken Landreaux (.281) and Greg Brock (.224) were the lone lefthanded-hitting regulars, L.A. had the league's best record against righthanded pitchers (.621) and the worst against lefties (.300).