Atlantic City Press - April 6, 1980

Noles Could Be Dark Horse


CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — The sound of fireworks wasn't the only explosion heard last July 4 at Veterans Stadium, home of the Philadelphia Phillies.


Baseball writers arriving to cover the Phillies-New York Mets game were greeted with a two-page statement, which reported the Phillies' pitching staff was down to two starters.


Larry Christenson, Dick Ruthven and Randy Lerch, three members of the starting rotation, would be unavailable for 10 to 21 days because of various injuries. 


Buried in the statement was a line which said the Phillies were bringing up righthand pitcher Dickie Noles from their Oklahoma City farm club.


Phillies’ management had talked about a lot of young minor league prospects, but Noles’ name usually wasn't among them. 


Noles had a 6-4 record at Oklahoma City in the American Association, but had won his last five games, compiling a 1.26 ERA. 


This spring Noles is an integral part of manager Dallas Green’s pitching plans. The Phillies have tried desperately to acquire help for their bullpen without success. Green, therefore, has had to look in his backyard, and he’s decided that the hard-throwing Noles could be part of the answer to the relief problem.


“I think Dickie Noles can come in and be a 'hammer',’’ Green said confidently. "He has confidence and the stuff to get guys out in crucial situations. He has that strikeout pitch a reliever needs to survive." 


How does Noles feel about losing his potential as a starter for a job as a reliever?


‘‘I’ll do anything I can to pitch here,” said Noles before learning that he would be going north with the club. "I'm a scrub, I just want to pitch on this club, so whatever I can do I'll do.” 


Noles insisted that being a starter wasn’t a mental life and death thing with the 23-vear-old from Charlotte, N.C.


"I just want to pitch in the big leagues, either way, relief, starter. it doesn't matter,” Noles declared. 


Doesn’t he have to prepare differently to handle relief chores as against starting? 


Not to Noles. It's all the same, just pitching. 


“You still got to get somebody out," he explained. “I just come in and pitch,” Noles said. "I don’t know. I've never relieved that much, but I'm willing to try it and give it my best.” 


Noles noted that it's easier these days to accept the role of a reliever. He recalled the day when being sent to the bullpen was a punishment. 


Noles' advancement to the majors hasn't been without its roadblocks. Even after he came up last season to help bail the injury riddled starting corps, he found himself back in the minors little more than a month later. He returned 10 days later. 


Did this Yo-Yo treatment bother him? 


"I accepted it. They explained things to me. They needed an infielder. It came down to who they did need and who they didn't need. I was expendable at the time." 


Noles said he learned something from the experience of coming up, going down and coming up again. 


“It's better up here than it was down there," said Noles.