Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Shuey still stunned as he joins Dodgers

AP Sports Writer

        Paul Shuey was still stunned from his unexpected trade as he met his new teammates Tuesday — the ones wearing Dodger blue instead of Cleveland blue.

        “I'm the deer in the headlights a little bit,” he said. “But it seems it's going to be a good situation.”

        By any measure, it will be much better than the one reluctantly left.

        The Indians traded the right-handed reliever to Los Angeles on Sunday for left-hander Terry Mulholland and two minor-league pitchers. Shuey left his home in suburban Westlake on Tuesday morning still trying to make sense of the last few months.

        Shuey, 31, spent his entire career with the Indians and didn't want to leave. He was part of their eight-year run as a playoff contender, with two World Series appearances.

        By the time he was traded on Sunday, the Indians had gutted the team and told fans not to expect anything until 2005.

        “It's been a shame to sit there and see that,” Shuey said. “My first year up was '94 and all I knew over there was being in the playoffs and fighting for it. I was a young kid coming in with great big eyes.

        “The last few years, if we didn't make the playoffs, it was tough. They were fighting for it. As much as I support (general manager) Mark Shapiro and his staff, it's gotten to be a money issue. It's a shame that it had to happen, that it became a money issue.”

        With the Dodgers, he'll have a better shot at getting back to the playoffs. He'll become a setup man for closer Eric Gagne, giving manager Jim Tracy a few more alternatives in the bullpen.

        Shuey started the eighth inning Tuesday night against the Reds, gave up Austin Kearns' RBI double, and left with the bases loaded and two outs. Closer Eric Gagne struck out LaRue to end the inning.

        Shuey plans to keep in touch with his former teammates as they finish the first of several tough rebuilding seasons.

        “I'm still rooting for those guys,” Shuey said. “I just hope and pray that this is the right move for me and my family.”

        It's an awkward move. He's trading leagues and moving from Ohio — the place where he was born — to California. He knows a handful of Dodger players, which should ease the transition.

        He spent some of his first moments in the visiting clubhouse at Cinergy Field playing chess against Mike Kincaid. The match was interrupted for the pitchers' and catchers' meeting to go over Reds' hitters.

        Shuey flew in from Cleveland and dumped his dark blue Indians equipment bag on the top shelf of his locker. He had to take No. 44 instead of his customary No. 53, which was Don Drysdale's number.


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