Philadelphia Daily News - August 12, 1980
Christenson’s Armed, Ready
By Bud Shaw
CHICAGO – Larry Christenson threw 90 pitches yesterday, and it is enough to know that he didn't need any help combing his hair before leaving Wrigley Field last night.
He Is now able to fit his elbow into a shirt without slitting the sleeve wide open, and he hasn't been hit by a line drive in nearly six months.
And if that doesn't sound like anything to get too excited about, it should be pointed out that Larry Christenson figures he's pushing his luck.
The Phillies' righthander came off the disabled list yesterday nearly three months after he had surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow. On Friday he will pitch against the New York Mets, the team he beat in his first major-league start six years ago.
"MOST PLAYERS IN this game talk about how lucky they are," said Christenson. "All I can talk about is how unlucky I am."
The one fortunate thing about Christenson is that he heals well. And that's not really luck. It's more the result of a lot of practice.
There was the collarbone broken in a bicycle accident two Februarys ago, surgery for the removal of bone spurs in the same area the following September.
There have been groin pulls, nearly busted kneecaps and an elbow you can squeeze like a grapefruit.
"In my second game of the year," said Christenson, "it was killing me. 1 had seven or eight starts after that and my arm hurt on every pitch.
"I guess I kept pitching because I was a starter and because I had those days off in between starts.
"I'd thrown in pain before so 1 was used to some discomfort. For awhile it would swell up but not puff like a balloon.
"Then in Cincinnati, I knew something was wrong. It was like something was moving around inside. I knew I'd better gel it cleaned out.
"EVER SINCE I had the garbage taken out ol it, I've felt pretty good. But 1 figured with being out the three months I was out, the meat ol the schedule, that I might not be able to come back.
"Now, I'm looking forward to the Mets and 1 really believe I can come in and make a contribution to this team through the rest ol the season."
Dallas Green thought so, too, but he just wasn't sure in what capacity. He talked about using Christenson as a reliever before Larry convinced him it'd be like trying to run Indy in the family station wagon.
"Realistically, I can't see me getting ready to face a hitter by throwing maybe 20 pilches. I throw 20 pitches and my arm's just getting a little loose. Unless Dallas can think ahead at least two innings, I can't see me filling that kind of role.
"I'm ready to start. Three weeks after I had surgery, the doctor told me to start throwing. I thought the guy was crazy, but now I'm about a month or so ahead of schedule.
"I've thrown as many as 120 pitches and haven't had any problems. I mean, I've had some soreness but it's never been a case where I really felt like I was going to hurt my arm, or had hurt my arm when I got done.
"The only thing I really haven't had much-chance to practice is dodging line drives. Hopefully, I won't have to do much of that Friday."
Phillies In Suspense
By Bud Shaw
CHICAGO – It was hard to tell if Barry Foote was running to first base or first base was running to him. Neither seemed to be gaining a helluva lot of ground on the other.
When Foote came to the plate as a pinch-hitter with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning yesterday, the Cubs were losing to the Phillies, 5-4. And it was still light out.
That's important, only because a short while after Foote's 90-foot marathon ended, the score was tied 5-5 and the light had dimmed considerably. Enough to convince the umpires that 10 innings and two hours of rain had been enough for one day.
You could sense the fear that should they let this game go on any longer, Foote might attempt to leg out another ground ball. And everybody might wind up missing last call.
The game was suspended right around 7 o'clock last night, still tied at 5-5, and will be completed prior to the second game of the series this afternoon at Wrigley Field.
THE PHILLIES SHOULD have ended it by 6:30, but the way things have been going lately, their progress is easier to plot by a calendar than a watch.
They should have ended it because they were ahead, 5-3, going into the ninth inning, and because Tug McGraw threw a near-perfect double-play pitch. And last and probably foremost because the two runners they had the opportunity to erase were named Barry Foote and Cliff Johnson, not exactly the first two legs of your dream track team.
McGraw was called in after Ron Reed allowed consecutive singles by Lenny Randle and Mike Vail, and an RBI double by Bill Buckner. Reed intentionally walked Johnson before handing the ball to Tug, who settled in to pitch to Foote, pinch-hitting for Scott Thompson.
Foote cue-sticked McGraw's first pitch to ward Manny Trillo at second for what looked like a game-ending double play. But the ball spun wildly out of Trillo's glove, and while he recovered in time to throw out Foote, Vail scored the tying run from third in what was the second game of the post-Dallas Green Scream Out Era.
"The thing was spinning like a sonofagun," said Green. "It wasn't really Manny's fault. It was just spinning so much the only thing he could do was make sure he got a glove on it. I know who was running, but I'm not convinced we could have turned that double play under the circumstances.
"ITS KIND OF AN empty feeling, especially coming off that Pittsburgh series. I would have liked to put this game away.
“We had done some of the little things right in this game that the Pirates did to us over the weekend. Lonnie (Smith) stole a base, was alert enough to take third on an overthrow.
"We had a hit-and-run with Keith (More-land) work. Garry (Maddox) drove in a run when we needed it. We did some good things out there today. And who's to say tomorrow won't be a better day? You know, we might win two tomorrow.
"We should have won it today, but then again we didn't lose it."
That is no small consolation for a group of guys who know how quickly August can blend into September and September into October when you're eating the dust of two other groups of guys.
The Phillies know they have to handle teams like the Cubs in the next few months. And for the first time in what seems like a month of Sunday doubleheaders in Pittsburgh, they appeared entirely capable of doing that yesterday.
They led, 2-0, on sacrifice flies by Bake McBride and Larry Bowa before the rain came. And when the game resumed after nearly two hours of watching the grounds crew dress and undress the infield, the Phils stretched their lead to 5-1 on a Mike Schmidt home run, a sacrifice fly by Trillo and a single by Maddox in the fifth.
IN WHAT WAS A new twist to an old Dallas Green saying, the Phils were finally playing like the Pirates and the Cubs were continuing to play like the Cubs. That might have been enough on this day, but Bill Buckner singled in one run, Phillies starter Bob Walk balked in another and Ron Reed eventually unraveled in the ninth.
"Walk pitched well but he seemed to lose some of his stuff in the sixth," said Green. "1 came within a whisker of not letting him go out for the seventh. He got in some trouble, but Sauce (Kevin Saucier) and Ron (Reed) both came in and did the job.
"Ron seemed to be throwing pretty well and that's why I let him face Buckner in the ninth. If 1 brought in Tug to face Buckner, we still would have needed a righty to face Johnson. But, well, it didn't work out and the only thing we can do is go out and try to win two tomorrow."
Cubs Manager Joey Amalafitano will complete the suspended game with a lineup that looks like it's been fed into a Waring blender.
He used five pinch-hitters and six pitchers yesterday, but as luck would have it the last one of those was named Bruce Sutter. Sutter can be almost as unhittable in broad daylight as he can at dusk. So when the umps conferred after the 10th inning. Green made sure ihey saw him squinting in their direction.
"It was getting a little tough to see," said Green, not mentioning Sutter by name. "The umps did the right thing."
So the Phillies walked away from Wrigley Field knowing they'd lost nothing yet, and hall expecting to find Barry Foote still running to first base when they arrived the next day.
PHILUPS: Mike Schmidt was struggling along in a l-for-23 slump before hitting his 28th homer of the season in the third. It was his first home run since July 29. and the 26th of his career at Wrigley... Lynn McGlothen (8-7) started for the Cubs but did not return after the rain delay... Steve Carlton (17-6) will face Mike Krakow (7-11) following the suspended, game today... The Phils sent righthander Dan Larson to Reading to make room for Larry Christenson, who returned from the disabled list yesterday... Larson can be signed by any team and can only return to the Phils if everybody passes on him... It was Dickie Noles who gave a three-run double to Pittsburgh's Tim Foli in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader, not Randy Lerch, as was reported here yesterday.
Astros Richard Still in Therapy
HOUSTON (UPI) A Houston Astros' team physician said yester day that J.R. Richard, the partially paralyzed All-Star pitcher, would be hospitalized "several more weeks" to continue therapy.
Dr. Harold Brelsford, who daily reports updates in Richard's condition, said the therapy involving the athlete's weakened left arm and leg is "extensive."
"Richard is more conversant and alert," a team spokesman said as Richard spent his 12th day in Methodist Hospital following a major stroke and emergency surgery for the removal of a blood clot in a neck artery.
There were five winners yesterday in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the fifth inning of the Phillies-Cubs game, Erin Kelly of Turnersville, N.J., won $35 on an RBI single, by Gary Maddox. Herb Tufts of Philadelphia, won $10 on a Mike Schmidt single. Fred Hannum of Aston, Pa., and Pat Wojeck and Earl F. Green of Philadelphia each won tickets to a Phillies game.
To date, the Daily News has paid out $13,865. Today's entry coupon appears on page 67.