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DODGERS NOTEBOOK: CASTOFF WHITE SLAMS MALONE.

Byline: Brian Dohn Staff Writer

Devon White, traded to Milwaukee five weeks ago, used his return to Dodger Stadium on Monday to say what he thinks of Kevin Malone. The Dodgers general manager, White said, is the source of many of the organization's problems.

White, Malone's first free-agent acquisition, added that he is still bothered by comments he attributed to members of the organization that he wouldn't dive for balls.

``The truth will come out,'' White said. ``Maybe (Malone) didn't like me. You don't have to like somebody to sign them. But after signing somebody for three years, after the first year, you want to get rid of them? If you did ... I don't know.''

White, a reserve outfielder with the Brewers, didn't stop there.

He criticized Malone for trading leadoff hitter Eric Young to the Chicago Cubs during the 1999 winter meetings because it left the Dodgers without a prototypical leadoff hitter. White was plugged into the leadoff spot.

White, who signed a three-year, $12.9 million deal after the 1998 season, also questioned the signing of F.P. Santangelo, who was released Wednesday even though he's guaranteed $850,000.

``I really don't know what went wrong,'' White said. ``They tried to make me the scapegoat, (saying) 'We need a leadoff man.' They had a leadoff man. They got rid of him. That's fine. That was one of my things, I could lead off. But I wasn't the leadoff man, Eric Young was. Just like Eric Young went elsewhere and he's successful now, that tells you to look at the source. F.P., the guy signs a two-year deal, and then he's released after the first. I mean, they need to look at the source.''

Malone took the high road, saying only, ``I just wish Devo the best.''

--Orel returns: Orel Hershiser is back in the Dodgers organization - again. His return as a player last season didn't work out, but the club is hopeful he will have more success as a mentor. Hershiser will work with minor-league pitchers, mostly at the club's minor-league hub at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla. An announcement is expected today.

``We're thrilled to have Orel back in the organization,'' Malone said. ``He's always been a fan favorite and his contribution to our minor-league system and our organization, as a whole, should prove outstanding.''

--Beltre's status: The Dodgers are hopeful third baseman Adrian Beltre will return from a second abdominal surgery by mid-May, but Beltre won't make a prediction.

``I hope I can be back by that date, but I can't tell you yes or no because I'd be lying,'' said Beltre, who underwent a second abdominal surgery March 12.

Beltre said that at one time he was 33 pounds below his playing weight of 214 pounds. He's 24 pounds below that mark now, an indication he might not be ready before June.

``We're going to know more in two weeks,'' said Scott Boras, Beltre's agent. ``The hardest thing to say to a player who's never been away from the game (for injury) ever since he was a 10-year-old child, it's going to be hard to say how quickly he regains his top form. It's not something he's ever experienced before. We have to be real cautious.''

DODGERS VS. ARIZONA

Time: 7:10 p.m., at Dodger Stadium.

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Net 2; 1150-AM, 1330-AM (Spanish).

Matchup: Dodgers RH Eric Gagne gets welcomed into the starting rotation by facing Diamondbacks LH Randy Johnson. It's the season opener for Arizona. Johnson, who's won the last two N.L. Cy Young Awards, went 19-7 with a 2.64 ERA last season. Gagne beat out RH Ramon Martinez for the fifth spot in the Dodgers' rotation, but he's starting in the second slot because of the injury to RH Kevin Brown. Wednesday - Dodgers RH Darren Dreifort (12-9, 4.16) vs. Diamondbacks RH Curt Schilling (11-12, 3.81); Thursday - Dodgers RH Andy Ashby (12-13, 4.92) vs. Diamondbacks LH Brian Anderson (11-7, 4.05).

- Brian Dohn

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DODGERS VS. ARIZONA (see text)
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 3, 2001
Words:677
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