Philadelphia Inquirer - July 18, 1980

LaGrow, cut by Phils, quits:  ‘Frankly, I have no desire’


By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer


HOUSTON – The Phillies released relief pitcher Lerrin LaGrow yesterday to make room for Tug McGraw, coming off the disabled list, on the roster.


And then LaGrow, without a display of hard feelings, used the occasion to say he would retire.


"The good Lord has given me a chance right now to go home," he said. "I know what I want to do, and all I want to do is say goodbye."


LaGrow, the free agent signed by the Phillies in the off-season, said he will return to his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., and devote all his time and attention to his wife and three young children and his real estate dealings. He said he does not want to try to join another team.


"Quite frankly, I have no desire," he said. "My family has put up with a lot all these years. I think it's time to put my time and interest back into my family and children. I'm tired of the inconsistencies, attitudes and judgments of the people associated with this game. That sums it up."


LaGrow, who turned 32 last Tuesday, was 0-2 with three saves and a 4.15 ERA for the Phillies. In 39 innings, he gave up 42 hits and walked 17 batters. With McGraw coming back from tendinitis in his shoulder and Warren Brusstar back in the bullpen, LaGrow became a man with an uncertain future.


"The only thing about Lerrin is I was disappointed that a veteran pitcher with his credentials couldn't come in and close the door for us in certain situations," said Dallas Green. "He gave up five home runs in 40 innings. But it was the base on balls that were giving us problems, and a veteran pitcher shouldn't come in and give up a lot of bases on balls.


"The bullpen is strong now. I need another starter more than I need him."


In other words, Green needs Dan Larson, who is scheduled to get a start in tomorrow's doubleheader in Atlanta, and he won't – or can't – ship Randy Lerch to Oklahoma City.


LaGrow has spent a decade as a reliever with the Tigers, White Sox and Dodgers. When he became a free agent last year, he signed a one-year, guaranteed contract with the Phillies.


"That type of contract tells you, 'Hey, I have to do well or I'm gone,' " LaGrow said. "All I had to see to solidify that was the way they got rid of Doug Bird and Rawly Eastwick. They were getting a lot more guaranteed money than me."


"Quite frankly, I'm not surprised," he said.


NOTES: Manny Trillo, his batting average up to .331, jammed the middle finger on his left hand sliding into third base Wednesday and joined Mike Schmidt (pulled hamstring) on the bench last night. "They said to try not to do anything today maybe two or three days," Trillo said. "I don't know."... Keith Moreland, an all-America third baseman at the University of Texas before the Phillies made him a catcher at Reading in 1977, made his major-league debut at third last night (he played some there last year in Oklahoma City) as Green – missing Greg Luzinski, Schmidt and Trillo – tried to get more hitting in the lineup.... Nino Espinosa vs. Phil Niekro tonight in Atlanta. Dick Ruthven and Larson pitch tomorrow, then Bob Walk comes back on Sunday.

Phillies win as Carlton gets No. 15


By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer


HOUSTON – Paul Owens stood in the middle of Phillies' vacant dressing room before last night's game with the Houston Astros and considered the latest injury, Manny Trillo's jammed finger.


"It's not a break," the general manager said. "It's just swollen. But I'm gonna make a bleeping comeback yet."


The Phillies were, indeed, a shadow of their former selves in the Astrodome last night when Trillo joined Greg Luzinski and Mike Schmidt on the list of walking wounded, when backup catcher Keith Moreland started at third base, his old college position. And the guys who played gave it the old college try.


Having Steve Carlton on the mound also helped in this 2-1, truly grind-it-out victory over the Astros.


Carlton followed Bob Walk's Wednesday three-hitter with a neat seven-hitter of his own to go 15-4 in this special season. He let his fastball do the talking, and he used his breaking ball to escape a tight spot in the ninth inning.


Super fastball


Dallas Green noted that Carlton had a "super fastball" and, basically, had things under control. "It was a damn good performance," Green said, "when we really needed it. The guys we used played like the devil, and this was a typical Lefty game."


Joe Niekro, the Astros' knuckleball specialist, didn't have a bad game, to be sure, but the Phillies used the knuckler for all it's worth, stealing three bases (two by Bake McBride) and getting both a passed ball and two wild pitches in their behalf. Thus the Phils' eight hits (two by Carlton) meant a couple of runs.


McBride scored both of them after singling and stealing, grinding his way into Green's heart. "Bake," Green said later, "doesn't have the soundest of knees, and I don't like to put a lot of pressure on them unless It's necessary. Today was necessary."


The Phillies struck for their first run in the fourth, after Niekro had retired 10 of the first 11 men he faced. Well, to be truthful, the Phillies struck out for their first run.


McBride hits, steals


With one out, McBride singled. With two out, he stole second and cruised over to third on a wild pitch. Niekro worked up to a 2-2 count on Garry Maddox and then threw him a ball that was far outside, seemingly closer to the Astros' dugout than the plate.


As often happens, Maddox swung at that awful pitch, and he missed it badly. Strike three. As often happens, too, the ball swept past catcher Luis Pujols' mitt and back to the screen. Wild pitch, and 1-0.


McBride led off the sixth with his second single. After Moreland popped to Pujols, Maddox followed with a hit, putting runners at the corners. And then Bob Boone chopped a roller past the mound, a tough chance for shortstop Craig Reynolds, who went to first as another run came in. Maddox hustled around to third on the play, but he died there when Larry Bowa flied to right.


This should not be confused with great run production, but, then, Steve Carlton should not be confused with Randy Lerch.


Carlton fans 10


Carlton wasn't letter-perfect on this night. He walked three batters to go with his 10 strikeouts (his first time in double figures since June 14), and the Astros, masters of hunt-and-peck baseball, had runners on base in the first five innings, stranding seven. So the Astros were looking at a 2-0 deficit – and Carlton.


"He's just like J. R," said Rafael Landestoy, the Astros' second baseman, thinking of J. R. Richard before his weird ailment. "You better get to him early, or he's tough, real tough."


On this night, of course, Carlton had the tough fastball, meaning he could stand back and fire in the huge cavern that is the Dome.


"He had super stuff," said Boone, "but he struggled a little bit with his control. The mound gave him some trouble. It was a little flat, and it might have been a little bit like throwing uphill. Consequently, he stuck with the fastball."


He cruised into the ninth with a five-hitter, all the hits on the ground. But then he lost his touch.


Pujols led off the inning with his second hit, a line-drive single to right. Suddenly, the Dome was alive, the "Noise!" sign flashing.


At that point, Carlton went back to the breaking stuff, quickly fanning pinch-hitters Denny Walling and Bruce Bochy. But then Landestoy, a guy with a .236 average, cracked a 2-2 pitch over Greg Gross in left. The ball bounded against the wall, Pujols scored, and Landestoy scrambled into third with a triple.


Next, Carlton went to 2-0, 3-1, then 3-2 on Terry Puhl, a fine contact hitter who hovers around .300.


"We threw him all breaking balls," Boone said. "We really didn't want him to beat us."


"If he walks Puhl," Green said, "I go for Tug (McGraw). He (Carlton) threw a bad pitch to Landestoy. It was up. Then he reached back and threw everything to Puhl. If he didn't get him, I was going for Tug."


However, Carlton did get Puhl on a grounder to Pete Rose at first to end the game – the Phillies' second victory in a row over the Astros, the second complete game in a row for the Phillies' pitching staff.


Somebody mentioned that Green was going to Atlanta and its park for home run lovers with a fresh bullpen, and Green responded with another injury. Kevin Saucier, is seems, has developed a kidney stone.


"Even with the doubleheader (tomorrow) tossed in, we're OK physically," Green said, "except for Sauce. He had a little setback, what we think is a kidney stone. It happened during the game. He felt some pain when he did his running. In the third inning, we took him to the doctor."


It is the Phillies' style of late.