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Magnante makes pitch with Dodgers

August 21, 2002

Jim Riggio

Mike Magnante's family is important to him. So, if there is one

place he would want to continue his major league baseball career, it

would be close to home.

Magnante's dream came true last Friday, when he agreed to a

minor-league contract with the L.A. Dodgers. The 1983 Burroughs High

grad and Burbank resident, who was released by the Oakland Athletics

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earlier last month, has reported to Las Vegas -- the Dodgers'

triple-A farm club.

In the wake of a players' strike Aug. 30, Magnante is expected to

be called up to the Dodgers on Sept. 1, when major-league rosters

expand to 40.

"I could have gone to Boston. We had an equal offer,'' said

Magnante Tuesday from Las Vegas. "But I got the chance to make the

choice. Ultimately [family considerations] was the total factor. I

had a prospect of being 3,000 miles away from my family the rest of

the season and the other option was playing in front of my hometown

team where my family could see me play.''

The left-handed reliever is expected to give the Dodgers some

much-needed help out of the bullpen, since left-hander Omar Daal has

remained in the starting rotation and Terry Mullholland was recently

traded. That has left the Dodgers with just 45-year-old Jesse Orosco

as the only left-hander in the bullpen.

Had Magnante, 37, signed with Boston, he would have been assigned

to triple-A Pawtucket, where he would have become a teammate of

former Burbank High grad Freddie Sanchez.

But having a good repour with former Anaheim Angels general

manager Bill Bavasi -- who now works for the Dodgers -- Magnante, who

played for the Angels under Bavasi, was able to fulfill a lifelong

dream.

"With the opportunity to play 15 miles from your home -- we told

Boston that [the Dodgers] were the only team that could knock them

out of it,'' Magnante said.

Dodgers' General Manager Dan Evans said he has always liked

Magnante, and he likes what he brings to the table.

"We're trying to win as many games as we can and he gives us an

option for September that we can use,'' Evans said. "If he pitches

well, he can push himself into consideration for a spot. I've always

admired that he's been a guy who's been in the pennant chase

before.''

Magnante said not playing in a game for a few weeks will require

him to get back on track. But he said he should be able to get back

up to speed in time to get called up when rosters expand.

"That's the hope,'' Magnante said of getting called up to the

Dodgers. "I did not have any guarantees. What I got was sincere

interest and that if I pitched the way I'm capable of, I'll get

called up. That was the same thing I was getting from Boston, the

interest.''

In the negotiation process, Magnante said he spoke to the Dodgers,

Angels and Red Sox, all teams fighting for postseason berths.

"Most teams that have fallen out of the race want to look at the

younger players,'' Magnante said. "We knew the teams that would be

calling would be teams in the race.''

Magnante said if he doesn't get called up to the Dodgers in the

next week, his family plans to make the relatively short trek to Las

Vegas to see him.

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