The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on August 27, 1991 · Page 26
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 26

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Tuesday, August 27, 1991
Page 26
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6C THE PALM BEACH POST TUESDAY, AUGUST 27, 1 99 1 They learn early at Class A: No longer just a game Some Expos ponder futures as season comes to a close By RON KOZLOWSKI Palm Beach Post Staff Writer There are no walls or roofs on the dugouts at Holman Stadium in Vero Beach, just pine benches and a couple of water coolers. A minor leaguer's misery is on display, head hanging low as teammates file silently toward the right field clubhouse. West Palm Beach Expos outfielder Ken Lake sat on the dugout's edge Aug. 14 after being thrown out stealing in the ninth inning, blowing any chance they had of coming back to beat the Dodgers. Then a rare thing happened. Scott Davison and Tim Laker stopped and sat with Lake, consoled him, breaking the protocol that says walk on by. "Just trying to pick me up," Lake said. "That's important to me. I had a real bad game and they saw me sitting there." ' All three learned some time after their first spring training that this was not the game they used to play. Pro ball is a business, a mean and lonely one. Were it just a game, Lake wouldn't have needed his friends, who know that August means pennant races and injuries and a gloomy winter wondering about careers. I The Montreal Expos are playing out their season and will go home to their families, vacationing until next spring. The West Palm Beach players will have to find work for the winter and hope they have jobs in baseball next year. More think maybe they won't than are sure they will. The last month is the toughest. ,: Davison has had a bad year, anyway, but August is hard. He was the Expos shortstop for most of the season, and they had a second baseman and another player who played both. Then they got a .300-hitting second baseman from Jamestown, and Davison's new position became the end of the dugout, sitting on a folded towel when he wasn't coaching first base. ' He's playing in about half the Expos games, with less than a week left in the season, and maybe the playoffs. Before the first game of a dou-bleheader in Port St. Lucie last week, Davison, 20, stood near home plate as the grounds crew worked the field. He stuck his right arm straight out and windmilled it, then reached over with his left hand and fingered the muscles on top of his shoulder, which has been sore since May. ; Like some players mindlessly adjust their caps, Davison constantly stretches and prods his shoulder. He also has had a sore elbow, dislocated the same shoulder, broken his nose, bruised his hand and sprained his neck. Laker, Davison's roommate, called him a hypochondriac. His whole pro career, all four seasons, has been underscored by doubt. The first tough decision was signing a contract with a $60,000 signing bonus instead of taking a scholarship at the University of Southern California. "He saw the money and ran," said his father, Ralf. "I knew that's what he was going to do. I wasn't going to be forceful when it came to that. He's the one who had the talent. The main thing we weighed was that if he goes four years in college and gets hurt, he's not going to get a shot. He can always go back and get an education. I think that was the bottom line right there. Plus, when they start throwing thousands of dollars in your face, that's pretty hard to turn down." Davison hasn't hit higher than .239 in pro ball, and he came to spring training this year thinking he should pitch, as he did in high school. He's been thinking that since he signed. "I said to myself, if shortstop is my future, it would be kind of senseless to go three years to some university and pitch if that's not what I'm best at," Davison said. "I figured, they're smart guys. They know where I should be, and . . . they might have been wrong." Davison is going home to Re-dondo Beach, Calif., for the winter. He might work for a friend cleaning pools, or maybe train to be a firefighter. Other players will go to winter ball in Latin America. Some will get a letter saying they aren't good enough to play anymore. Manager Felipe Alou has been at West Palm Beach since 1986. "You hate to have a team where everybody is either released or coming back next year," he said. "It's the toughest part of the game when you have to tell a kid that he no longer has a job in baseball. You have to tell a kid he no longer can be a hero in uniform." He calls playing baseball a crusade sacrifices required. First baseman Rob Bargas, formerly of Florida State University, agrees, sort of. Sitting behind home plate one night, a stress fracture in his leg and little hope of playing the last two months, he assessed the minor leagues. "The only good time is when c4;r fh -V J I . Vet r rvvf . Wl " r -v nT i. . , f .T raa ...... . ,,.-:.. ' - k, , ' ... C.J. WALKERStaff Photographer Ken Lake (left) is consoled by teammates Scott Davison (right, forefront) and Tim Laker after Lake was thrown out stealing in a game at Vero Beach. 'I had a real bad game and they saw me sitting there,' Lake said. v" " 1 li ! rip i i0izi K I ," 4ik Jjk H j i , ' ' ' " "4 J!j'-' . C.J. WAtKERStaff Photographer C.J. WALKERStaff Photographer At 1 2:30 a.m. Saturday, a crowd of nearly Life in the minor leagues doesn't include visits to a hairstylist. Doug Bochtler cuts 4,800 had dwindled to 100 or so as the Expos Ken Lake's hair as (from left) Jim Eddy, Scott Davison and Tracy Collins watch, and Mets played a rare tripleheader. you cash your paycheck," Bargas said. "Or hit a home run." So they just keep playing, 136 games a year. It's the enthusiasm they lose. Davison started the year working out daily at a health spa, lifting weights. A lot of guys did. Now they lift beer cans instead. "Guys get away from any ritual they might have had," trainer Sean Cunningham said. "We've got access to the health club. I'll guarantee you nobody's been there in three weeks." A long drive awaits Davison and his four-wheel drive Toyota. For three weeks, he's been going over the route in his head and with California teammates up Florida's Turnpike to Interstate 75, across 1-10 through Tallahassee and then a straight shot to Los Angeles. The latest plan is for outfielder Troy Ricker to ride along. Maybe they'll drive straight through, or maybe they'll stop in Palm Springs, Calif., with a friend who is a pilot and can fly them to Las Vegas. Anything but baseball. "It's like this every year," Davison said. "I go home for a month and then say, 'God, I wish I was playing." " Who says v ahead by pi oilcan aying It Sc. Eo These are tough economic times. Times in which ten out people are itching for maximum return on their savings. And one in ten might tolerate some risk to get it. But what about the other nine of you? What do you do? You open a Custom Term account-our flexible CD-or a Liquid Asset account at Savings of America. You'll get a competitive rate of return. You'll be often about insured up to $100,000 by the FDIC. And youll be doing business with a savings institution that's not only the largest in the country, but one that has always done what savings institutions are supposed to do: put its depositors' money in home loans, one of the safest investments anyone can make. The times may be tough. The decision about where you should put your money is anything but. ..... 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