Philadelphia Inquirer - April 4, 1980
Five rookies may accompany Phillies north
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Here are some of the things the Phillies accomplished yesterday while they were not playing the Boston Red Sox:
· Dallas Green all but announced his final roster. And it probably will include an astonishing five rookies, baseball’s largest contingent of Vukoviches (two) and nobody named Doug Bird.
· The whole team voted to stick around Florida and work out under Green through next Wednesday. Any thought the players had of heading for Philadelphia were torpedoed by Ruly Carpenter, who announced the Vet was closed to them until next Thursday. But at least nobody decided to vacation in Puerto Rico for the week.
· Nino Espinosa, the pitcher who said a week ago he had never even considered the possibility he wouldn’t be ready to start the season, was officially declared not ready to start the season. Espinosa was placed on the 21-day disabled list.
· Warren Brusstar was sent to Oklahoma City, not to pitch but to see Dr. William Granna, a shoulder specialist, next Thursday.
· And besides that, the Phillies did three hours of working out. Half of the workout was spent on fundamentals. The other half was highlighted by hitters grumbling over having to face pitchers in batting practice who actually were trying.
Mike Schmidt, for example, discovered he would have to bat against Lerrin LaGrow. LaGrow not only throws a lot harder than Bobby Wine, he also leads the planet in hitters’ bats broken.
“Man,” moaned Schmidt, “I’d rather spend a week in solitary than face that guy.”
He faced him anyway. But it wasn’t the workout that was the big news of what was an amazingly normal non-game day, considering the circumstances. It was those roster decisions.
Green revealed he was taking rookie righthander Scott Munninghoff north as one of his 10 pitchers. In fact, he revealed it to the press before he revealed it to Munninghoff, who pitched only in Double-A Reading last season.
That was not as big a surprise as Green’s hints he also was taking outfielder George Vukovich, who made it despite being a lefthanded hitter and a non-roster invitee to camp.
They join rookies Keith Moreland, Luis Aguayo and Lonnie Smith, three other Green prodigies, on the squad. You’d never know the manager was a former farm director, would you?
If those guys are in, that means a bunch of veterans are out. Bird definitely is one. By day’s end, the only contents in his locker were three empty hangers. He will, however, go down in trivia history as the answer to the question, “Who was the winning pitcher in Dallas Green’s first game as manager?”
The other cuts were not announced. But the best guesses are infielder Bud Harrelson, outfielder Mike Anderson and reliever Rawly Eastwick.
Aguayo appears to be able to do everything Harrelson can do. Anderson got no pinch hits last year and never worked very hard at becoming a quasi-catcher. And Eastwick had two very bad outings after starting strong this spring.
Green said that Paul Owens will try to find all of those guys jobs. But he said, “I don’t anticipate any significant trades.”
Munninghoff, 21, rode his tough sinking fastball to a 1.00 earned-run this spring. He is a groundball specialist, and Green foresees him “in a Brusstar situation (middle relief) for a while.”
Green said he did not envision Munninghoff making it before the spring started. But the injuries to Espinosa, Larry Christenson and rookie Marty Bystrom gave him a chance to pitch.
And once he pitched, he threw strikes, got a preponderance of ground balls and strikeouts, and didn’t look afraid of anybody.
“I liked the way he pitched against Texas,” Green said. “He battled one guy – (Billy) Sample, I think. He had him 3-and-2. He threw four pitched that got fouled off. Then he finally got him on the fifth pitch. That indicated he’s coming after guys. That shows me something there.”
“I think he’ll be very tough for righthanded hitters to handle,” Green said, “especially not having seen him.”
George Vukovich, 23, provided another lefthanded-hitting bat the Phillies didn’t need. But he is a good fielder who might fit into a Jerry Martin-type role defensively. And he has a reputation as an excellent line-drive hitter. He batted .363 this spring.
“He’s a nonroster guy, so he must have shown me something,” Green said. “I think George can hit left-handed pitching. He may not hit some lefthanders as well as he can handle others. But Bake (McBride) is the same way. If you check his record, he hits better against lefthanders than righthanders.
“George, basically, is a well-schooled baseball player,” Green said. “And he can play left and right.”
So with the roster essentially resolved, the only remaining question is whether Green can get his pitching ready without benefit of any more exhibition games.
“I think it could be very difficult,” said reliever Kevin Saucier. “Pitchers don’t like to throw batting practice, and hitters don’t like to hit against us in batting practice. All throwing batting does is mess my rhythm up.
“If he could get us into a lot of game-type situations, it would be a lot better. But you take a Larry Christenson, who’s been hurt. It’s definitely going to hurt somebody like that. He’s got to get back and get some innings in.
“Us relievers only need a couple of innings every other day, and we’ll be all right. But starters need their innings to get their rhythm down and to keep their control.”
Green acknowledged that his starters “did not pitch superlative” this spring. But at least, he said, “we have 10 sound bodies.” And last year’s manager couldn’t say that a year ago at this time.
NOTES: Espinosa threw lightly yesterday for the first time in six days. How does the shoulder feel? “It feels fine when I don’t throw,” Espinosa said…. Green said he will not hold intrasquad games per se but will work on various situations in simulated games with “live pitching.”… Steve Carlton will pitch the opener against Montreal, Green said. The other two games with the predominately righthanded-hitting Expos (April 12 and 13) will be started by righthanders, he said – some combination of Dick Ruthven, Christenson and Dickie Noles.
Owners and players set 7 meetings
By the Associated Press
NEW YORK – Negotiators for both sides in the baseball strike met for two hours with a federal mediator yesterday and set up a schedule of seven meetings over the next three weeks in an attempt to settle the labor dispute that has caused the cancellation of 92 exhibition games.
Kenneth Moffett, the federal mediator who was called into the dispute Sunday, called yesterday’s session “fruitful” and reported progress between the two sides.
“The mere fact that the parties have agreed to schedule meetings is a good sign,” Moffett said.
Moffett said the two sides had met with him separately and had gathered together several times during the two hours.
“We discussed the calendar for meeting and other things, like logistics,” Moffett said.
Marvin Miller, executive director of the players association, said the first meeting would be Tuesday, the day before the opening of the 1980 season. Striking players have agreed to return to their teams and open the season on time, but they have threatened a strike for May 23 if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached.
Other meetings are scheduled for Thursday and for April 15 and 16, all of them in New York.
Miller and attorney Don Fehr represented the players association. Management’s team included Ray Grebey, chief negotiator for the owners; Lee MacPhail, president of the American League; Chub Feeney, president of the National League, and Barry Rona, attorney for the Major League Players Committee.
The owners are insisting on compensation for free-agent players signed by other teams. The players, however, oppose that proposal.
Phillies loyal when it counts
By Frank Dolson, Sports Editor
CLEARWATER, Fla. – OK, the Phillies passed the loyalty test. Let’s give them that.
They showed up en masse for a meeting with management yesterday morning, and they stayed en masse to continue working out, as a team, for next week’s opener.
Granted, that’s the least they could have done for an owner who has treated them far better than most, and for a city that has supported them far better than most. To split up now with opening day in sight would have been unthinkable.
But that didn’t stop some other teams from doing it. That didn’t prevent a number of players from jumping in their cars and driving to California, or rushing to the airport and flying to the Caribbean… or going wherever home happened to be.
Major league baseball has become chaotic down here in this spring of discontent, and for some teams it may get worse before it gets better.
The Toronto Blue Jays held a meeting Wednesday morning and were urged by management to stick together through the end of spring training, even if the club could no longer provide the $53.50 daily allowance for meals, lodging, etc.
“If we’re not getting paid, I’m going home,” outfielder Rick Bosetti said, according to a teammate. Apparently, that touched off a chain reaction. Several Blue Jays left camp and headed for home, even though they were informed by the club they’d have to pay their own way to the site of the opening game, which in Toronto’s case happens to be Seattle. Under the circumstances, it wouldn’t surprise anybody if the Blue Jays were to show up for their opener with less than a full, 25-man squad. Nor would it surprise anybody if they wound up at least as deep in the cellar as they did last year.
The Mets also took a long step toward solidifying their position in the basement.
“A lot of our players split,” Mets player rep John Stearns reported. “I think (manager Joe) Torre blue the whole show. He and his coaches were in uniform, ready to go when the players showed up (for the team meeting). The guys saw all that, and when they heard they weren’t going to get paid they got miffed.”
On the other hand, the defending World Champion Pirates stayed together, as did the St. Louis Cardinals, who have visions of a championship year themselves. “(Cardinal manager Ken) Boyer explained to us that they couldn’t pay us if we stayed, that an owner paying room and board (in violation of the management directive) would be fined half a million dollars,” a Cardinal player said. “We all understood.”
There seemed to be a fairly strong tendency for the contenders to understand and for the also-rans not to understand, which might help to explain why they’re what they are. A notable exception was Montreal, a close runner-up in the NL East a year ago; Expos players went their separate ways.
Certainly, the fact that the Phillies stayed together was a ray of hope for their owner, their general manager, their field manager and their fans.
“I think it shows these guys want to play and want to win,” Ruly Carpenter was saying as his players sprawled on the grass nearby, going through calisthenics. “Other clubs have had few internal problems; we haven’t. So I think that’s a plus for our people.”
Carpenter, one owner who is acutely aware of the danger in turning the public against the players, went out of his way to credit catcher Bob Boone, the National League player rep, with helping to keep the team together in this crisis.
“Bob Boone, I think, has been a very positive force,” Carpenter said. “If there’s anything positive now with this labor problem it’s been the way he’s handled himself. He’s certainly been a stabilizing influence.”
But the biggest stabilizing influence probably was Carpenter himself. No owner in baseball is closer to his players; if anything, he’s been criticized for being too close, too protective at times. Also, few owners have been as consistently fair in handing out contracts on the big-league level. To ignore management’s plea to stick together at a time like this would have been a colossal demonstration of ingratitude.
“We’ve got a different-type owner than a lot of other teams,” shortstop Larry Bowa said. “I think everyone takes into consideration who our owners is. He had to do something (in light of the strike); that’s just the way it is. We understood it. We understand if he didn’t read that (management directive at yesterday’s meeting), he gets fined $500,000.
At the close of the team meeting, Bowa said to his teammates, “Does anyone want to leave? You don’t have to stay.”
“I was just glad that the guys thought about the organization,” Bowa said.
The fact that the team was on a trip to Florida’s East Coast when the strike began may have helped. Surely, the fact that Phillies management didn’t overreact helped.
“I told Dallas (manager Dallas Green), ‘Go on as planned,” general manager Paul Owens said. “I told him, ‘Look, just take the players and house them as nothing happened, and I’ll talk to you in the morning.’ By that time the emotion may have gotten out of this thing.”
Given time to cool off, the players were in a better position to view the situation objectively yesterday.
“It probably did help to let some of the frustrations out and get rid of some of the bad thinking that maybe some of them had,” Green said. “I’m very proud and pleased that, overall, we’ve reacted well as a team.”
“I’d have been disappointed if they hadn’t stayed,” was the way Owens put it. “I think this is a proud team, and I think they know they’ve got a chance to win it all, and I think that in itself will hold them together.”
“It just shows our guys have some dedication to do what they set out to do,” Green said.
And by contrast, it served to emphasize the lack of dedication by the large number of big leaguers who chose not to go on training with their teams this week. The effect on those clubs may be significant.
“I’ll tell you,” Owens said, “you can get out of shape pretty damn quick.”
“That’s not my problem,” Ruly Carpenter said. “I hope that’s what happens to some Eastern Division teams we have to play.”
It has happened to some of them, and it hasn’t happened to the Phillies. Let us be grateful, at least, for that.