Dawson combines talent with hard work; Piniella already restless

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``There are certain hitters to whom you do not give advice,'' explained Don Zimmer, who is managing the Chicago Cubs this year after similar positions with San Diego, Boston, and Texas. Zimmer was talking about one of his own: 33-year-old outfielder Andre Dawson, who again is up among the National League's leading home run hitters. Last year Dawson hit a career-high 49 homers en route to being voted the league's Most Valuable Player. Andre had been an MVP runner-up twice before, to Mike Schmidt of the Phillies in 1981, and to Dale Murphy of the Braves in 1983. He also won six Gold Gloves during the 10 seasons he spent in Montreal before coming to Chicago as a free agent last year.

``Sure, talent is part of Dawson's success,'' Zimmer continued. ``But before I took over the Cubs this spring, I didn't know anything about this man's personality or work habits. I only knew that for 10 years he had put some impressive numbers on the scoreboard.

``Well, you should have seen Dawson in camp,'' Don continued. ``Nobody worked harder. He made it easy for me. The point is that everybody there took their cue from Andre. I think they realized right away that if a superstar like Dawson would drive himself every second he was on the field, it would look kind of embarrassing if they didn't.''

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``There are two reasons that I hit 49 home runs last year,'' said Dawson, whose fierce game face belies a disposition that would not be out of place on Angela Lansbury. ``I was healthy for the first time in a long time, and I got to hit against a lot of pitchers in the daylight, which allows you to see the ball better.''

Andre was referring to Wrigley Field, the Cubs' home park, which until this year had never had lights. He was also saying that it is much easier on a player's legs if he does his running on grass, rather than synthetic turf, which was what Dawson had to contend with at all home games during his decade in Montreal.

Andre has three bits of advice for hitters trying to cure a slump: (1)surprise yourself and the opposition by hitting to the opposite field once in a while; (2)make the pitcher come to you by being more patient at the plate; and (3)don't listen to advice from anybody, even baseball insiders. Ironman Brunansky

From manager Whitey Herzog of the St. Louis Cardinals on the trade that sent second baseman Tommy Herr to Minnesota for outfielder Tom Brunansky: ``Everybody thinks we got Brunansky strictly for his home run and RBI power, and to a certain extent that's true. But another thing I like about him is that for the past five years Tom has played an average of 155 games a season for the Twins. With most of today's players, you're lucky if you can get 100 games out of them. Any little injury and they want you to sit them down for three days.'' Zane Smith's philosophy

How many pitches do you need to win consistently in the big leagues? Explained left-hander Zane Smith, who won 15 games in 1987 for the last-place Atlanta Braves and continues to pitch well: ``I throw my sinker 80 percent of the time and everybody in the National League knows it. But as long as opposing teams keep hitting it into the ground, I won't change.''

What Smith isn't saying is that through some natural kink in his delivery (even he can't explain it), he never knows which way his sinkerball is going to run. He also has extremely good control.

Since the start of the season, the Braves have reportedly been approached with trade offers for Smith from the Yankees, Twins, and Blue Jays. The holdup is because in return Atlanta wants two everyday players, plus a young pitcher with the potential to be a starter.

Also being shopped around these days are first baseman Leon Durham of the Cubs, outfielders George Hendrick of the Angels, and Jim Rice of the Red Sox. With salaries ranging from Hendrick's $983,000 to Rice's $2.2 million, there aren't apt to be any takers. Sweet Lou misses pin stripes

After playing so many years in the majors, and then managing for two seasons, Lou Piniella appears restless already in his new position as general manager of the New York Yankees.

``Even though I spend most of my time at the ballpark, there are times when I don't feel much like a baseball man,'' Piniella told reporters recently. ``I guess it's because I've been in uniform and on the field for so long. I'm not like most other baseball executives, who never played or managed.''

What could speed Piniella's return as Yankee manager is one more barroom brawl by Billy Martin. Elsewhere in the majors

Catcher Rick Cerone, plucked off the waiver list by Boston when Rich Gedman was injured, still has a lot of mileage left in him. It was expected that Boston pitchers would like throwing to Cerone. What wasn't expected was the way he has helped the Red Sox with his bat. So far, Cerone has been the steal of 1988.

Any team in need of a third baseman should contact the San Diego Padres. Manager Larry Bowa and Chris Brown, who get along together like flint and steel, are both pulling for a trade.

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