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EXPOS HAVE BROCK, HISTORY BEHIND THEM\ MONTREAL GETTING HELP FROM BASERUNNING EXPERT
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EXPOS HAVE BROCK, HISTORY BEHIND THEM\ MONTREAL GETTING HELP FROM BASERUNNING EXPERT

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In the spring of 1982, Hall of Famer Lou Brock worked with the St. Louis Cardinals on their baserunning. That fall, the Cardinals won the World Series.

In 1987, Brock worked with the Minnesota Twins during spring training. That fall they, too, won the World Series.In 1988, Brock was in the Los Angeles Dodgers' spring camp. Guess what happened seven months later ...

This spring Brock is working with the Montreal Expos who, like those other teams, appear a step or two away from a World Series championship. Manager Felipe Alou, somewhat superstitious, is happily aware of the history. ``But,' he said with a smile, ``I don't want to be too relaxed.'

Using computer technology for the first time, Brock works on ``ballistic starts' for Expos speedsters Marquis Grissom, Delino DeShields and Larry Walker, and tries to eliminate unnecessary steps in rounding bases.

Called ``biofeedback' or ``motion analysis,' the process has been used to analyze the economy of motion in golf swings, at track and field events, and even at the NFL combines, Brock said.

It incorporates the use of several cameras, set at various angles, and a computer. The photographs are translated into stick figures by the computer, and a printout documents how motion has been wasted.

MAYBE HE'S WORTH IT: Maybe we've all been a little too tough on the New York Yankees for throwing $7 million at shortstop Spike Owen this winter. That's what his old manager, Felipe Alou, believes.

``For what he's being paid, he's right there where he belongs,' Alou said.

The 1993 Elias Baseball Analyst offers some supporting numbers. Owen's average of one error every 62.9 chances as the Expos' shortstop was the lowest error rate in NL history for shortstops with at least 500 games. Owen also is one of six players to increase his batting average by at least 10 points in each of his last two seasons.

The Elias people list several other positive statistics about the 31-year-old shortstop. He advanced from first to third on nine of 20 outfield singles, scored from second on eight of 10, and drove in 16 of 23 runners from third base with less than two outs.

``He was one of the big reasons we had a good year,' Alou said. ``He came up with big plays: a big home run, or he'd bunt a runner over. He did everything I asked him to. He played when he was injured, and he played hard every time.

``I'm going to miss him here. Especially his leadership.'

STILL ON TRACK: Atlanta Braves reliever Mark Davis isn't going to let one bad spring outing get to him.

Davis said Friday that poor mechanics were to blame for his ineffectiveness in an 8-2 loss to the Montreal Expos Thursday. ``I just started falling to the side. It's something that can easily be corrected,' he said.

Davis, who won the Cy Young Award in 1989 with the San Diego Padres, has had an outstanding spring despite his two innings Thursday, when he allowed three hits and two runs in relief of Steve Avery.

The left-hander has allowed only five hits in nine innings, walking five and striking out 10 with an ERA of 2.00. Opposing hitters are batting only .167 against him.

Davis is competing against Jay Howell, Steve Bedrosian and Shawn Holman for the two open spots in Atlanta's bullpen.

``I feel good about the spring,' he said. ``I'm working hard, getting my innings. That's what's important.'

FERNANDO WATCH: In Clearwater, Fla., Fernando Valenzuela on Friday continued his strong comeback bid with his third straight shutout performance since signing with the Baltimore Orioles.

Valenzuela allowed two hits in five scoreless innings in the Orioles' 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. In three games with Baltimore, he has pitched 10 shutout innings and allowed five hits and three walks with two strikeouts.

``I don't have to make a decision right now,' said Orioles manager John Oates when asked where Valenzuela ranked in the competition to be the club's fifth starter.

Valenzuela said his screwball, which he used to win 141 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 1980s, isn't sharp, and that's reflected by only two strikeouts.

``I need to get it down more ... it's a little out of the strike zone,' Valenzuela said. ``I'm trying to be too fine. I think it will come back the more I pitch. But my arm is fine.'

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