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DODGERS NOTEBOOK: DODGERS COULD FACE SIGNIFICANT TAX.

Byline: Brian Dohn Staff Writer

HOUSTON -- One of the teams to be impacted significantly by Friday's labor agreement is the Dodgers, who could go through a second consecutive offseason of cost-cutting because of the new luxury tax.

The threshold for the 2003 luxury tax is $117 million, and teams that eclipse it must pay a penalty between 17.5 and 40 percent on every dollar over the tax. Using this season's calculations, the Dodgers would have to pay such a tax and their payroll burden for next season could be just as bad.

Heading into the offseason, Dodgers general manager Dan Evans appears to have his work cut out for him because of a number of substantial guaranteed contracts. The Dodgers have 12 players with guaranteed contracts worth $94.7 million for the 2003 season, plus another $1 million of deferred money for Marquis Grissom.

The payroll figure used against the luxury tax will consist of all players on the 40-man roster, and benefits and perks included in the contracts of those players. A rough estimate for perks and benefits for next season is $8 million.

Dodgers officials wouldn't discuss how they believed the luxury tax would impact them, or their decision making, because they are yet to get a comprehensive copy of the labor agreement.

However, the Dodgers considered the possibility of a luxury tax when they began planning for the 2002 season, and Evans trimmed payroll this year. A decrease in payroll next season is likely as well, organizational sources said.

Major League Baseball calculates the Dodgers payroll at $118.8 million this season, meaning they would pay taxes on $1.8 million. They entered last offseason with 12 players guaranteed $83 million for the 2002 season.

Infielders Mark Grudzielanek and Eric Karros, pitchers Kevin Brown, Darren Dreifort, Andy Ashby, Hideo Nomo, Kazuhisa Ishii, Paul Shuey and Paul Qunatrill, outfielders Shawn Green and Brian Jordan and catcher Paul Lo Duca have guaranteed contracts for the 2003 season. Several others remain property of the Dodgers and will get contracts through arbitration or salary renewals.

--Cora returns: Four days after leaving Dodger Stadium via ambulance and on a stretcher, shortstop Alex Cora returned to action and batted eighth. The Dodgers training staff put Cora through a series of hand-eye-coordination tests and strenuous physical activity to ensure he wasn't suffering from post-concussion syndrome.

``I brought my game cube and was playing football all day long,'' Cora said of readying for the coordination testing. ``I'll try to avoid (diving), but I'll go by my instincts.''

Cora was knocked unconscious for 30 to 45 seconds Monday when he dived and smashed his head into the knee of Arizona shortstop Tony Womack.

--Dodgers to add eight: When teams can begin expanding their rosters from 25 to 40 Sunday, the Dodgers will add seven players. Infielder Jeff Reboulet, reliever Giovanni Carrara and left fielder Brian Jordan will be activated from the 15-day disabled list. Outfielder Wilkin Ruan, infielder Joe Thurston and catcher David Ross will be added from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Ruan is batting .318 and is 12 for 12 in stolen base attempts in 39 games. Thurston, who is batting .334, leads the minor leagues with 193 hits. Ross is batting .298, and the Dodgers like his defensive ability. The Dodgers also plan on recalling lefty Mike Magnante from Las Vegas. Right-handed pitcher Kevin Beirne, pitching at Class A Vero Beach, will rejoin the team Monday in Arizona.

--Damage control: As soon as negotiations were finalized, the Dodgers called and/or sent letters to sponsors, season-ticket holders and elected officials to address the labor situation.

``The gist of the communication is to let the fans know we appreciate the patience and support, and they deserve to see this season in its entirety because of the excitement of the team,'' Dodgers senior vice president Derrick Hall said.

--Odds and ends: With permission from the club, Jordan remained at his Atlanta home an extra day and will rejoin the team today and likely be in the lineup Sunday. ``It turns out we made the right move (disabling Jordan) because he's going to come back feeling a lot better with the week-and-a-half rest,'' Dodgers general manager Dan Evans said. ...

Tracy made it official by stating left-hander Kazuhisa Ishii would start Tuesday in Arizona.

DODGERS vs. HOUSTON

Time: 5:05 p.m., Minute Maid Park.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13; 1150-AM, 1330-AM (Spanish).

Matchup: LH Omar Daal (10-6, 3.62 ERA) is one of the reasons the Dodgers lead in the wild-card race. He is 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA in his past seven starts and hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of those games. He'll be opposed by Astros rookie RH Kirk Saarloos (6-3, 5.72), a product of Cerritos Valley Christian High and Cal State Fullerton making his first start against the Dodgers. Saarloos, 23, is 6-1 with a 3.56 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break.

- Brian Dohn

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 31, 2002
Words:837
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