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Sunday, April 11, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Money Man -- Dodger Kevin Brown Called Many Things, Especially A Winner

The Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES - He has been called a jerk, a jackass.

He also has been called a perfectionist, a consummate professional.

He has been called arrogant, crass, nasty, despicable.

He also has been called solid, demanding and a teacher.

Kevin Brown has in fact been described in so many different ways, starting with arrogant and awesome and ending with zany and zealous.

In between there are the B-words, like bullish, brash, benevolent - lest no one forget about the $1 million donation that he made to provide for inner-city-youth baseball programs in Los Angeles.

There are the E-words like exemplary.

There are the P-words, like perfect for the Dodgers, which is one reason General Manager Kevin Malone made Brown the highest-paid player in the game, signing him to a record-breaking seven-year contract in December worth $105 million

Any or all of those things, the Dodgers are happy with what they have in Brown. "This guy is who he is - he's a fierce warrior, a competitor. That's who he is and I don't think any apology is needed," Malone said of Brown. "It seems like, in some of the things you read and hear about, people misunderstand him. But I have an appreciation for what he's all about because he's all about winning and nothing else should be important from a player's standpoint.

"His intensity is definitely a key element of what he's all about, and that intensity has a very positive effect on his teammates and everyone else in the organization.

"I think he's a quality guy and I like him, Malone said.

He is what he is, and he is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball.

"To watch him pitch is a pleasure," said Toronto assistant general manager Dave Stewart, a four-time 20-game winner and pitching coach last year in San Diego when Brown was with the Padres.

Stewart was on track to becoming a major-league general manager when he put a uniform back on last year as a favor to Padres general manager Kevin Towers and owner John Moores. But he said Brown made it all worthwhile.

"Watching him take the ball every fifth day was one of the best things I experienced as a pitching coach. It made me happy I did the job I did," Stewart said. "It was worth everything I sacrificed to do that job last year, and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world."

He is what he is . . . and he is a freak of nature. At least, that is what Stewart called him.

Brown is one of only two pitchers who have thrown more than 1,400 innings in the past seven years without going on the 15-day disabled list with an arm ailment.

And, he never ices anything after games.

There is no ice on the shoulder, no ice on the elbow, no ice anywhere.

And that is rare, indeed.

"The guy has just been blessed," Stewart said.

Brown just shrugs and taps at his head, mimicking a superstitious knock on wood.

"It's just a matter of what you're used to," he said.

He is what he is, and he is one hell of a boat driver.

That is what Doug Bochtler said.

"OK, so we were out fishing, and we started catching a lot of fish right at the end of the day," said Bochtler, who was in camp with the Dodgers until he was placed on waivers near the end of the spring.

"It was starting to get dark out, and the bugs ... I don't even know what kind they were, but they were getting bad, pretty thick.

"It got to the point where you could hardly see, there were so many of them. He had me get up and hold a spotlight up, so we could see where we were going, and he has a boat that can go about 70 miles an hour.

"I'm on the side of the boat that doesn't have a console, there's no window or anything, and I'm just getting splattered by this blizzard of bugs.

"The whole time, he was behind the console, ducking down behind the window and just laughing his butt off at me. We went to dinner later that night, and he walked in with this clean white shirt on and I was disgusting, wearing this shirt that was polka-dotted with bugs, just all over the place."

He is what he is, and he is a master at the media brushoff - sometimes nice, sometimes not, sometimes so creative you can only laugh.

One morning this spring a reporter was at Dodgertown, looking to do a brief interview with Brown for a story.

The reporter approached Brown when the pitcher walked into the clubhouse and was told, "No." The reporter tried again later that morning, asking for only a few minutes, and was told, "It's still too early." The reporter started to sidle over toward Brown again later, while the pitcher was engaged in a conversation with a teammate. Somewhere in that conversation the word "No" was used because without lifting his head or batting an eye, Brown raised his voice and said, ". . . and speaking of, `No."'

He is what he is . . . and he is demanding of his teammates. Last year in San Diego there were times when he shared heated words or cold silences over misplayed balls, mental lapses and the like.

Some of his teammates took to calling him "hornet."

"That's just Kevin being Kevin," Stewart said. "He's as hard on himself as he is on anyone, and there are going to be differences with his pitching coach and differences with his teammates. That's just Kevin."

He is what he is, and he is not a member of the plumber's union.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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