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DODGERS NOTEBOOK: JOHNSON FOCUSES ON INFIELD.

Byline: Brian Dohn Daily News Staff Writer

With full squad workouts set to begin Wednesday, Dodgers manager Davey Johnson's focus will turn to on-field priorities.

``The area I'll be working mostly with is my expertise, the infield play,'' Johnson said. ``You'll see me working on different scenarios there, and in the bullpen, leading up to (closer Jeff) Shaw.''

The infield of Eric Karros at first, Eric Young at second, Mark Grudzielanek at shortstop and Adrian Beltre at third will provide runs but is only average on defense. Grudzielanek, however, spent much of the offseason working on his defense and Beltre, though a rookie, is touted as a strong fielder.

``Are we going in with Gold Glovers?'' Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone said. ``No, but these guys are talented, athletic guys that have a lot of pride and work hard, and I think they'll get it done.''

Figure a competitive spring training in the bullpen, with decisions made late in camp as to who will fill what role.

``I expect to have multiple set-up guys,'' Johnson said. ``The most critical area of a ballgame is always the sixth, seventh, eighth. The better people I have to go in the sixth, seventh and eighth, the better your ballclub.''

The real competition could be for the left-hander's role. With one left-handed starter, Carlos Perez, Johnson said the ideal situation is to have two lefty relievers. Greg Cadaret and Chris Haney are the early favorites, but Pedro Borbon, coming off arm surgery, and Jeff Kubenka, who was 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA in six games for the Dodgers last season, also figure into the mix.

Johnson thinks the bench, the backup outfield and catching positions and the starting rotation will work themselves out before the club returns to Los Angeles.

A weighty issue: With the first day of full workouts being Wednesday, many of the position players will arrive today. Expected in that group is Raul Mondesi, who the Dodgers are eager to see.

Malone said Mondesi weighs approximately 240 - 20 pounds over his playing weight - which could be an opportunity for fourth outfielder Todd Hollandsworth.

``We'll see him when he shows. We'll wait and see what we've got,'' Malone said. ``Hollandsworth could earn a lot more playing time than he is anticipating at this point.''

Shaw's shape: Shaw remains in Washington Court House, Ohio, waiting for his wife, Julie, to give berth to their third child. But don't think the Dodgers are fretting about it.

``He threw two simulated innings (Saturday),'' Malone said. ``He threw 65 to 80 pitches. We know Jeff Shaw's a hard worker. I'm not worried about it. I'm sure he's in tremendous shape.''

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

PHOTO (1) Manager Davey Johnson said he'll turn his attention to the infield and bullpen. While the infield should provide plenty of runs, its defense is suspect.

Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

(2) RAUL MONDESI

The Dodgers expect him to arrive today. Mondesi is 20 pounds over his playing weight.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 23, 1999
Words:498
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