Philadelphia Inquirer - July 10, 1980
Carpenter says Phillies silenced on drug report
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Phillies have been told by state drug law enforcement officials not to discuss reports that a number of players are under investigation for illegally obtaining amphetamines, team president Ruly Carpenter said yesterday.
Carpenter said at a Veterans Stadium press conference that neither he, team officials nor any Phillies players would comment on reports that at least eight players had illegally obtained amphetamines from an unnamed Reading physician. Any comment on the investigation will come from drug law enforcement officials, Carpenter said.
"No one has been charged with anything," Carpenter said. "No one has been accused. No one has broken any laws. It's all speculative."
The Trenton Times, which broke the story Tuesday morning, named Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Pete Rose and Larry Bowa among the players to be questioned in the investigation.
In a copyright story yesterday, the Reading Times said Phillies pitchers Steve Carlton, Larry Christenson and Randy Lerch, and Bowa's wife, got prescriptions for the amphetamine Desoxyn in Reading, according to an unidentified pharmacist.
According to the pharmacist, a "runner" filled approximately seven prescriptions for Phillies players over a two-year period, the last about 10 months ago. All were signed by Dr. Patrick Mazza, the Reading Phillies' team physician, the pharmacist said.
Berks County District Attorney George Yatron told the Associated Press yesterday: "At this point, we have no evidence that would indicate that anyone has broken the law." He cautioned that the investigation has not been completed.
"As far as news reports of Schmidt and Bowa," said Yatron, "the information we have on those two individuals shows no connection at all, even innocently." He declined to give details of the investigation, but said he hoped to be in a position to make some official comments by the end of the month.
Yatron said his office has been informed of the investigation and provided legal advice.
When asked about Yatron's statement that two of the four players named were not involved, Carpenter said: "Two-for-four might be a good batting average in baseball. But in newspaper work, that might not get the job done."
Carpenter said he first learned of the matter from an anonymous phone caller Monday. The caller said the Trenton paper was preparing to publish the drug story Tuesday. Carpenter called the paper and said he told the writer of the story, "I have no control over what you write. But I think that when you make allegations of this kind, you had better be very certain of the facts."
Carpenter said he thought that if Phillies players had not been named in the story, the matter "wouldn't be that big a deal. But because professional athletes are involved, it becomes a story, even though nobody has been accused of anything."
Carpenter also said he had talked to people in the office of baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn. He said Kuhn had read the newspaper reports and "will be looking into the matter." Kuhn told The Inquirer Tuesday that his security people had been notified and that he had no comment as to what action might be taken.
"Before the commissioner were to get into figuring some penalties," Carpenter said, "there would have to be some specific charge and there would have to be some proof of guilt. But the commissioner does have authority to do things on this type of matter. We saw that with that guy up in Montreal."
Carpenter was alluding to Montreal pitcher Bill Lee, who was fined $100 by Kuhn last season for facetiously saying in an interview that he had used marijuana on his pancakes.
The Phillies closed their clubhouse prior to a team workout yesterday. And Carpenter urged reporters at the press conference to "not press my players... because you're not going to get too much response.
"They will be glad to answer your questions on the game of baseball," the Phillies president continued, "on the Chicago Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the high slider, anything like that. But regarding this investigation, nobody will make any comments."
Not only were the players reluctant to talk about the investigation, but some implied the drug story would seriously affect the future relationship between players and reporters.
"I'm done giving out interviews in Philly and everywhere," said Bowa. "This happened to me when I supposedly hit (Courier-Post reporter) Ray Kelly. I was accused then. I'm accused here. You (newspaper) guys have all had it in headlines. I'm done."
Schmidt said all the story did was "re-enforce my feeling about the press. I'm in a limbo situation. I'm-trying to decide if I owe anything to the press from now on.
"That the media would take the liberty the way it did, tarnishing my name and those of my teammates with sensationalism, basically floors me. I'm in the process of trying to decide whether I'm going to join the Steve Carlton ranks. And when I come to the ballpark tomorrow, I'll know whether I have or not."
Rose, who had said Tuesday that he didn't know "any doctors in the whole state of Pennsylvania," said yesterday he had "made a mistake."
"I do know two doctors in Pennsylvania," Rose said. "The Pirates' team doctor and the Phillies' team doctor."
But when asked if he had had any contact with law-enforcement officials, Rose answered, "None."
Mazza, the Reading doctor who believes he is the center of the investigation, said he had never prescribed amphetamines to patients without first administering an examination. Mazza, 56, a family practitioner who has worked for the Phillies' Reading farm team for 12 years, said he has not been contacted by the Pennsylvania Drug Law Enforcement Office in Harrisburg, which is conducting the investigation.
"I'm angry and puzzled and I'm awaiting legal advice at this time," Mazza told the Camden Courier-Post. "It's not good medical practice to prescribe drugs without a physical examination, and I've never done it," he said.
"In the case of amphetamines or barbiturates, it is also not allowed to issue refills without a physical. But if the state asks, I'm not afraid to open my records."
Phillies tea leaves: Possible flag
It will take luck, pluck and Dallas Green nagging
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
You want testimony on the meaningless-ness of the first half of baseball seasons?
Just call to the stand the ‘78 Red Sox, the ‘79 Astros or about eight different units of the Chicago Cubs Synchronized Swan-Dive Club.
The first 76 or 80 games of a baseball season are entertaining and all that. Trouble is, it gets really difficult to use them as harbingers.
A year ago at the All-Star break, the Pirates (who won the East) were in fourth place. The Reds (who won the West) were 5½ games out. The most consistent starting pitcher in baseball might have been Joaquin Andujar (11-5 the first half, 1-7 the second). Or Mike LaCoss (9-3 the first half, 5-5 thereafter).
And at midyear, Tug McGraw had not given up a grand slam to a single Pirate yet.
So what does it mean that the Phillies are a game out of first as they begin The Second Half against the Cubs at the Vet tonight?
It means they are in better shape than the '77 team that won its division, for one. That bunch was two back at the All-Star break. (Of course, the division also was considerably weaker that year.)
It means they have kept a patchwork starting rotation from letting them descend to the irretrievable depths of San Diego Padre Land.
It means, essentially, they have done fine, considering all the hardships they have survived. Besides everything else, Greg Luzinski has hit .173 since June 1, and Mike Schmidt has three homers since June 3. Yet they have gained ground on first place in that time. So it is hard to complain.
But all their first half really means is that they have earned the right to start their season (the second-half version, that is) over.
They start it with a much better shot to win than they appeared to have when they rumbled out of Clearwater three months ago. Their starting pitching looks the soundest it has been since 1978. The bullpen has some depth again. The bench is more than Del Unser, Greg Gross and six guys the manager is afraid to use. But remember the lessons of seasons past. You never know.
"I feel very fortunate to be where we are," said Dallas Green, who can see the edge of this forest better than anyone, but also knows he is not I there yet.
“Now I'm not saying I doubt our team. We have a very good baseball team. But we have been hurt. And pitching-wise, we've really struggled to get our act together.
"The bullpen wasn't effective the first three weeks. Then the starting breaks down: We lose Christenson; Ruthven gets hurt; Espinosa's not ready. It looked like we weren't ever going to get our act together.
"But then the bullpen got tough. And now we're starting to right ourselves. Ruthven has come around. Espinosa is back, finally. And I really feel that if Randy Lerch can pitch anywhere near the way he's capable of pitching, we're going to walk right through this thing."
Green feels Lerch's problems are Jin his head or his heart. And that is the thing that has bugged him most about his team as a whole, too.
"I get frustrated at times with this team," he said. "I've talked a lot about character. Then I see us winning games, moving forward – and then we take a step back.
"We win two straight in Montreal. Then we don't go for the jugular. We win two straight against the Cardinals, beat them in a doubleheader on one of the hottest nights of the year. Then we don't go for the jugular.
"I talk about grind-it-out baseball. And that's what it takes when talent starts to equalize throughout the league. We can't blow people out with talent anymore. We have to depend on team character, team baseball. Grind-it-out baseball will win games for us.
"I don't know if they understand what I'm trying to get across. But I'll keep digging at them to reach their goal. I'll keep nudging them. They have not won a championship. And I'll keep reminding them of that. I want to show them how to do it."
It is uncertain how the Pennsylvania Bureau of Drug Control's investigation into possible illegal supplying of amphetamines to Phillies players will affect the team. Green sees this as another "test of team character."
"I've been talking about team character since spring training," he said. "And we'll just have to weather it."
What will it take for them to win the division over the second half? Here is a department-by-department look:
•STARTING PITCHING: Steve Carlton has begun to show signs that he will be only a 25-game winner instead of a 35-game winner. Six weeks ago, that would have meant disaster, because the only tune Green could hum was "The Wild, the Innocent and the Broad Street Shuffle."
But Dick Ruthven made two straight decent starts before he fell on his shoulder. And he has made two excellent ones since his return. Nino Espinosa has lost a yard off his fastball, but he was still smart enough to two-hit the Cardinals. It is only a matter of arm strength with Ruthven and Espinosa, because, better than anyone else on the staff, they know how to pitch.
Meanwhile, Bob Walk always has had the stuff to win. All he had to do was convince himself it was the same thing pitching to Dave Winfield as to German Barranca back in Triple-A. Walk has allowed only 17 hits and three earned runs in his last three starts There probably will be days when he will continue to show his youth. But he can win.
Green insisted a month ago he would rather wait and hope on the Ruthvens and Walks than gamble on an Ed Halicki. It is too soon to say he was right to be patient. But he is leading in the early returns.
"What I'm looking for now is some consistency frnm mv starting five" Green said. "And sometimes the All-Star break messes that kind of thing up. If we can come back from the break and get some consistency, I'll be much happier than I am now."
•BULLPEN: It was the bullpen that made it possible for Green to juggle starters like a regular Steve Martin. Since May 1, Tug McGraw, Ron Reed and Dickie Noles have protected every lead they have been handed but one.
Kevin Saucier has allowed only four of the 20 runners on base when he entered games to score. Lerrin LaGrow has not been as tough as he appeared in spring training, but he has not been Doug Bird either. Even Dan Larson has helped.
If Noles can regain his short-relief momentum, if McGraw can come back from tendinitis, if the starters can keep the relievers from being overused, this bullpen can help win a division.
•OFFENSE: Schmidt and Luzinski have to hit for these guys to win. But the team has adjusted well enough to alternative forms of offense to rank a close third in the league in runs scored. And they have had only one sustained team-wide slump.
They could be better at moving runners over. It would be nice if Garry Maddox and Bake McBride could run more. But all in all, this attack is at least adequate. Luzinski says he is the key. He may be right.
•BENCH: Perhaps Green's greatest achievement has been Lonnie Smith, a guy Danny Ozark would have traded or wasted. The things he contributes (contact hitting, speed, ferocious double-play takeout slides) are things no Phillies manager has been able to get from his bench in years.
Smith is the bench MVS (most valuable scrubeeny). But everybody has helped, from Ramon Aviles to both Vukoviches. And not only have they helped, they feel a part of things. That is not the way Jim Morrison used to feel.
•MANAGER: Green gets a solid A. Sure, there are guys who do not like his approach. But how many complaints have you heard from players not playing or pitchers not pitching? He has used everybody, and consequently, everybody is ready to be used.
Yes, he has made some strategic moves he regrets. But as a manager, his biggest strengths are that he looks at things over the long haul, not inning by inning. Keeping his bench and bullpen ready, not rushing guys back from injuries, resting people whether they like it or not those are not shortsighted moves from a guy trying to win one ball game. He is a major reason they are where they are.
•OUTLOOK: A lot depends on the rest of the division. If Wilver Stargell cannot get healthy and the Pirates' bullpen cannot get together, The Family has trouble. The Expos' bullpen might not stay this good, but having Valentine and Parrish will not hurt their cause.
Even Green admitted the other day that the Mets "are a damn good team." The players still fear the Cardinals. And as long as the Cubs have Bruce Sutter, they can beat you.
All that helps the Phillies because it might not take too many wins to grab the division. There are still too many questions about the Lerches, Walks and Espinosas to say the Phillies look like a division winner. But they have not looked better since May 1979. You would have to be a fool to write them off now.
NOTES: Luzinski's right knee is still bothering him, and he will be replaced in left field tonight by Smith. Trainer Don Seger continues to insist Luzinski's injury is nothing serious. But neither Seger nor Luzinski is sure how the knee was injured. And fluid had to be drained from it Tuesday. Luzinski did not work out with the team yesterday.... Schmidt is expected to be back in the lineup tonight.... Ruthven vs. the Cubs' Mike Krukow (6-9) tonight. Walk vs. Lynn McGlothen (6-5) tomorrow.