Camden Courier-Post - July 14, 1980
Pirates spoil Brusstar’s return
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – Warren Brusstar. Perhaps that name rang a bell with some of the 48,152 fans when it was announced over the Veterans Stadium public address system.
Warren Brusstar. Two years ago he was the prize of the Phillies bullpen, a sinkerball specialist who routinely transformed National League hitters into ground ball outs. Last year, he faded into minor-league limbo, the victim of a muscle tear in his right shoulder. This season, he was all but forgotten, a name evoked only when talk to the championship years of 1977-78.
That name walked to the mound in the eighth inning yesterday to mop up what would end a 7-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The real damage had long since been done, pitcher Don Robinson, first baseman John Milner and shortstop Tim Foli all hitting home runs off starter Nino Espinosa.
THERE WAS, then, little external pressure on Brusstar when he threw his first pitch against major league competition since July 24, 1979. All he had to do was find out if he could still get that major league competition out.
Brusstar needed just two pitches to get the inning's first two outs, but had to throw 14 more to get the final out. In between, Bill Madlock and Ed Ott singled, Mike Schmidt made a throwing error and Phil Garner drove in Madlock with a base hit to left.
In the ninth, a more relaxed Brusstar retired the Bucs in order, significantly, on three ground balls.
"I CAME into the dugout after the first inning I threw and I knew I had to keep the ball down better because that's where I'm effective. After the second inning, I know what I have to do. It's just a matter of concentration.
"Everytime I throw, it seems my arm is getting stronger. Basically, it's because I have the mechanics right now..."
Pitching a baseball is not like riding a bicycle. The rhythm that must be second nature is soon shattered by idleness. The skills learned only by constant throwing erode rapidly.
"It's just the little things you do as you wind up," he explained. "You do one thing wrong and it progressively breaks down along the line."
SO IT was with Brusstar, who made sort of a pilgrimage through the medical world in search of the answer to his shoulder problems. He tried complete rest, but all that did was cause his muscles to atrophy. He tried strength-building exercises, but they helped only marginally.
He saw doctors on both coasts and another in Oklahoma before finally journeying, on his own, to see a chiropractor, Dr. David Fitzmorris, in St. Louis.
"He seemed to really help it quite a lot," Brusstar said. "Then, when I came back (to Philadelphia in May), I got on a program with Gus (Hoefling, the club's exercise coach) and I got a lot of strength back."
Had Brusstar not allowed that run in the eighth, and had Greg Gross been able to complete an inside-the-park home run in the seventh (he was thrown out at the plate after Bob Boone had scored to make it 6-2 the score would have been a manageable 6-4 when the Phils batted in the ninth.
AND THE circumstances would have been infinitely more interesting when the Phils got their first two runners on and Kent Tekulve came in from the Buc bullpen to pitch to Boone.
Certainly more than one person recalled the events of Saturday night when Boone stepped to the plate yesterday with the runners at second and third after Larry Bowa tried to bunt his way on. Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner had used a five-man infield with three men on the left side under similar circumstances Saturday. Boone, however, beat Tekulve, the shift and the Pirates with a ground single to left.
This time, though, Tanner boldly used four infielders. That tactic worked perfectly, Boone bouncing to the mound before Tekulve got Gross to ground out and bring a modest four-game Phillies winning streak to its conclusion.
ROBINSON, a fine hitting pitcher, put the puncuation on a four-run Pirate second with a two-run homer that all but decided the game and served notice that Espinosa, another just returning from sore-arm oblivion, is a long way from being the pitcher he was in 1979.
But at least – as Manager Dallas Green would point out – Espinosa and Brusstar were back... It had, indeed, been awhile since the two names had been called over the Vet's public address system.
PHIL UPS – Homer was first in Robinson's major league career... Robinson, who got the win, had to leave the game in the ninth after pulling a groin muscle on his first pitch to Boone... Weekend drew stadium record 153,615... Rose is 8-for-12 with seven RBIs over his last four games... Camden's Gabriel Pierantozzi was a member of a winning quartermile relay race team during a pregame promotion... Randy Lerch opposes Rick Rboden in home stand finale tonight.
Phils’ rookies relieve old fear of injuries
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – A year or two ago, it would have been a roller coaster weekend for the Phillies – up over Friday night's victory, down about the sidelining of Greg Luzinski with a knee problem, up over their fourth straight win Saturday night, down over yesterday's loss which turned upward in the end as relief pitcher Warren Brusstar finally returned to action.
Things are not the same with the Phils, however. A different attitude toward the traffic between the starting -lineup and the trainer's room is prevailing at the insistence of Manager Dallas Green.
"What was our cry, last season?" asked Green. I’ll tell you. It was, 'Just wait until we get everyone healthy and back in action.'
"Well, when we finally did get everyone back, the job still didn't get done. That's got to tell you something."
It tells Green what Danny Ozark forgot, as a result of the mind-boggling way the team stormed out of the gate last season. A super-talented, eight-man lineup may win a lot of games, but it takes an entire organization to win a pennant.
When injuries hit the club last year, the belief that the Phils' starting lineup was nearly unbeatable turned into an anchor that the players began lugging around while they played a waiting game.
"They got this feeling that they couldn't win without certain guys on the field," explained Green. "I don't buy that."
Good thing. If he did, the Phils would not be battling for first place right now. And, they wouldn't stand a chance of going into what promises to be a brutal stretch drive with all their big guns firing.
Consider this. So far this season, Green's firm belief that the Phils could not afford to be without the services of youngsters like outfielder Lonnie Smith and catcher Keith Moreland has proven to be stroke of genius.
The newcomers have been invaluable, moving in and out of the lineup as injuries to the veterans cropped up. The stars have gotten breathers and time to heal.
Luzinski, for example, should be ready for the "dog days of summer" as a result of the healing time he's getting right now. Ozark didn't give Bull that kind of consideration last year and it proved to be disastrous. Danny was sold so completely on the "star lineup" theory that he sent guys out there on one leg. And not just Luzinski.
What did this do to the healthy guys on the bench? "I'll tell you one thing," said Smith. ' "It's hard to care when you're sitting like that. You're mentally unprepared, and physically rusty from not playing."
Giving the bench playing time without fear that everything is going to fall apart should pay solid dividends when those players (such as Smith's current move to left field) are called upon to deliver. But pulling it off hasn't been that easy. Green has raised both ire and eyebrows by going into important games with people like Mike Schmidt, Garry Maddox, Bob Boone, Bake McBride and Larry Bowa on the sidelines. On several occasions, the stars wanted to play hurt and weren't exactly thrilled with being told to rest.
"I think they've come to find out that I'm not overwhelmed by their talent," said Green. "I can understand them wanting to play. They're competitors. But I also respect hard work and the kind of effort you get when you put an extra man into the lineup.
"I'm trying to tell the starters that their talent can be equalized by the guy coming off the bench. Those guys know how to win, also. The idea of playing an injured player, no matter how much natural talent he has, when you have a qualified, healthy substitute around... well, it never made sense to me."
Granted, the fans might bite their lips when a slugger like Luzinski isn't around to face Pittsburgh, when Bowa is replaced by Ramon Aviles during a showdown with Montreal and Schmidt plays in only three of 11 games prior to the All-Star break.
The way the team has fared in the standings thus far, one would have a tough time second-guessing Green when he predicts, "I'm going to play the kids even more."
All the Phils got while waiting for the perfect situation last season was a ticket for loitering in fourth place. This time, the band wagon doesn't stop for anyone.