Hollandsworth Seeks Fun, Return To Dodgers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - After tumbling from National League Rookie of the Year to the minor leagues in less than one year, Todd Hollandsworth says he can't do anything but try harder.

Back at Class AAA Albuquerque, Hollandsworth faced the same question again and again. Isn't it hard to return to the minors after last year's accolades with the Los Angeles Dodgers?

"I've gone through difficult things before," he said. "I know all things work out good in the end.

"I know it's for my best - that I can find my stroke down here, get back to playing Todd Hollandsworth baseball and hopefully take it back up to L.A. real soon."

In his first two games with Albuquerque, Hollandsworth is 3 for 7. He was 1 for 3 last night in the Dukes' 11-3 loss to Tucson.

In reassigning the 24-year-old Hollandsworth, the Dodgers hope he can regain the stroke that helped him become the team's fifth straight rookie of the year.

Last season, he hit .291 with 12 homers, 59 runs batted in and 21 stolen bases to join teammates Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi and Hideo Nomo as consecutive winners of the NL's rookie award.

This season, Hollandsworth was hitting just .232 with two homers, 18 RBI and four stolen bases. Thursday night in Oakland, he went hitless in four at-bats before he was told to catch a plane to Albuquerque.

Dodger General Manager Fred Claire said last week that Hollandsworth is a championship-level performer, but the demotion was needed because he was struggling too much.

Hollandsworth agreed. He said his goals at Albuquerque involve relaxing and finding his hitting stroke.

"Trying not so hard at the plate, trying not to think so much and using the whole field, which has always been my game," he said. "I've kind of gotten one-dimensional at the plate and I've got to get back to driving the ball to the outfield.

"I can't continually worry from at-bat to at-bat or pitch to pitch. I've just got to take it one day at time and get back to having fun out there."

Albuquerque Manager Glenn Hoffman said the Dodgers placed no timetable on Hollandsworth's stay.

"Todd's just coming down to work on his hitting, get him on track and get him back to the big leagues as soon as possible," he said.

Coming through the Dodgers' farm system, Hollandsworth helped Albuquerque win the 1994 Pacific Coast League title, then spent part of the 1995 season with the Dukes.

Sent back again, he has accepted the challenge.

"I'm not going to lose my confidence," he said. "I'm not going to lose faith in what I can do out there on the field."