Philadelphia Daily News - July 28, 1980
Phils’ Bats Smile on Carlton
By Jay Greenberg
Winning is Dallas Green's chicken, the laughter that comes with it his egg.
Or is it the other way around?
"What you're saying," said the Phillies' manager, "is that if you go out and have fun you'll win. I say you go out and play hard and win, that's fun. You've got to earn it first.
"Guys on Atlanta and San Diego will always have fun, by that way of thinking."
And guys in Philadelphia will win their share, and worry more than their share about the writers, the fans, the manager. Lerrin LaGrow may or may not have been correct on the cause, but he certainly recognized its effect. Win or lose, the Phils' clubhouse is filled with about as much mirth as a cancer hospital.
Give a manager Steve Carlton's left arm. or a clubhouse Steve Martin and naturally, he'll take the arm. But surely, over 162 games, a laugh or two and the reduced tension that goes with it could mean a game or two.
THE PHILS YUKKED it up pretty good yesterday, setting Veterans Stadium records for runs and hits in a 17-4 giggle over the Atlanta Braves. Garry Maddox drove in five runs with two hits, and three other Phillies – Lonnie Smith. Pete Rose and Larry Bowa – had three-hit afternoons.
Steve Carlton won his 16th game, the important 13-game homestand was off to a 3-1 start, and though Greg Luzinski faces a knee examination today which may determine whether or not the Phils can muster a stretch drive, surely 21 hits and 17 runs should be worth a grin or two.
Take Dallas Green (to which some of his players will say "Please").
"Sure, it should help." Green said. "It's a fun game and it came at a time when we've been struggling for runs and hits. Almost everybody got something and it was good for them.
"Sure. I want them to have fun. We tell them that all the time. What makes you think I don't? I've tried. I've learned to live with the things that bother these guys (media and fan pressures) and I wish they all could, too. But there's really nothing I can do about it."
Anyway. Maddox is one of the Phils who, facing the current trying times, would rather cope than gripe. He doesn't wear a lampshade around the locker room, and given the choice of addressing the media masses or vanishing in the vapor of a quick shower, he'd much rather be on his way home. But when caught just three steps short of the door, he was at least polite.
"I KNOW GREG had some things to say," Garry said carefully. "I'm not familiar with anything else that's been said or written.
"My main concern has to be doing everything right that I can do right. Then if I have some time, I'll maybe look for some excuses. Until I get myself going, then I can't afford to sit around and put the blame on somebody else."
Yesterday's 2-for-4 raised Maddox' average only to.269, which, coupled with 45 RBI, is not bad. But it's not exactly Maddox, either. If Luzinski needs surgery or a longer rest, Garry will probably have to continue batting fifth. Which, after pitchers get finished nibbling and walking Mike Schmidt, could make Maddox' RBI production crucial.
"A lot of people can point out there's something wrong," said Maddox of his recent slump. "But it's still another thing to get into a game and make the adjustment. You know you're supposed to keep your shoulder in there, but it's another thing to do it and get into that groove where you do it consistently.
"A team can get by with good pitching and good defense. If Luzinski is out for a long period of time, I still think we can get by.
"The pitching has been good most of the time. If I can just get back to hitting where I can, it can make a difference.
"THIS HAS BEEN one of the few good streaks I've had, but it's still not satisfactory. I'm going through a stage where I've changed from what I've done in the past, simply because I'm not prepared to sacrifice a season just to stay with it. I'm trying a new stance, trying different things, just about every time I go up there."
When Maddox' RBI single, which keyed a three-run first inning, was wiped out by a three-run Braves' second inning, the Phils gave Carlton an even better lead the second time.
Steve started it himself with a one-out single, and Smith and Rose hits loaded the bases. After Bake McBride had doubled in two runs, and : Schmidt was intentionally walked, Maddox scored three more with a triple inside first base.
Those five runs put Carlton into cruise. He gave up only a Glenn Hubbard fifth-inning homer and a Gary Matthews sixth-inning single before retiring in favor of Dickie Noles in the eighth.
The Phils kept tapping away, meanwhile, getting three in the seventh on Schmidt's RBI single, a Maddox sacrifice fly, and a Larry Bowa single. Four more scored in the eighth on RBI by Del Unser, Keith Moreland, Ramon Aviles and Bowa.
A good time was had by nearly all, even though the most telling one-liner of the three-out-of-four weekend was probably the one that revealed the Braves' 14-31 road record.
Yet, as crucial homestands go, it was at least a good start, provided Dr. Phillip Marone finds only "arthritic changes" and nothing else funny in Luzinski's knee at Methodist Hospital today.
"I had my best year, at least average-wise, the year (1974) Greg missed the rest of the year (with torn ligaments in the same knee)," said Schmidt hopefully. "But it will make it that much harder without him."
PHILUPS: Steve Carlton and Baltimore's Steve Stone are the majors' only 16-game winners... The 17 runs were also a high in the National League this season... Mike Schmidt passed Pinky Whitney to move into eighth place on the Phils' all-time RBI list with 735. Next up is Willie Jones with 753... Nino Espinosa pitches against Gordon Pladson as Astros open a three-game series at the Vet tonight. Tomorrow Joaquin Andujar goes against Randy Lerch, Wednesday Nolan Ryan vs. Dick Ruthven... The Phils, who lost the season series, to Atlanta last year, finished up 7-5 against the Braves this season.
Lonnie Would Fight Switch Now
By Ted Silary
As the first of what would be two batting practice sessions wound down shortly alter noon. Lonnie Smith hop-scotched to the left side of the plate and smacked a ground ball to right field.
One swing later, he thumped a semi-liner into center for another base hit. One more swing later, he sent a roller to the left side that, with his speed, would have been an easy single.
"Damn, Lonnie." hollered Larry Bowa. standing next to the cage. "Don't tell me you want to hit.600.”
"Hey." Smith countered, "I've been wanting to do this for three years."
No, not hit.600. Even that brief stretch of.400-plus batsmanship did not put those kinds of stars in Lonnie's eyes. But he did want – desperately, in fact – to become a switch-hitter.
"AFTER MY FIRST full year in the minor leagues (.323 at Spartanburg in 75), I got moved to Triple-A and I wanted to make a serious attempt at it then." Smith said yesterday, after going 3-for-6 and raising his average to.356 in the Phillies' 17-4 rout of the Atlanta Not-So-Braves. "But no one felt it was necessary.
"There was this feeling that I would be a.300 hitter and home-run hitter. I'd never ask (then farm director) Dallas Green during those few years, but I would ask my coaches and managers. It was a desire I'd had since my high school days. An urge, really.
"I wanted to see if I could hit left-handed playing professionally. Most other times I did it – in the streets, in pick-up games – I felt I did it pretty well. Actually, I felt I had more power on the left than I did on the right.
"It was a matter of getting them to believe in me. But it never happened."
As Lonnie Smith spoke, his voice had a wistful quality, as if he envisioned 30 chopped balls to short in a season and 25 more hits, at the least, in the tossed-away mold of a Matty Alou.
In his spare time, Gus Hoefling. the Phils' strength and flexibility guru, has timed Smith at "3.2 or 3.3" from home to first on a bunt and on a regular cut – remember, Lonnie just doesn't wave at the ball – he gets down there in "4.0 or 4.1."
CONCORDE-LIKE lefties can make it in 3.5 on a regular basis. Alas. Lonnie Smith won't ever be one of them.
"Even if they wanted me to start switch-hitting. I wouldn't do it now," Lonnie said, his voice shifting to slightly forceful. "It's completely out of my mind. I just like to fool around... take a few swings every so often."
As visions of a .400-plus average dance out of your head forever, it should be pointed out that Smith is no slouch against righthanders. In fact, his 2-for-4 against Rick Matula and Preston Hanna raised his average to.371, as opposed .333 against lefties.
And now that Lonnie has his first major league home run – punched Friday night against Larry McWilliaras in his 154th at-bat over three years – out of the way, the stream of ropes can be expected to continue. That homer he hit yesterday, off a 1-2 pitch from Matula in the first, was a bonus.
"I was overswinging a little (during a recent 3-for-20 drought)." Smith noted. "Actually, I was trying to hit a home run. I was trying to pull everything. I had all those at-bats and I didn't have a home run. It was getting to me.
"But I'm not a power hitter, so I just have to make the best contact I can. If I can get a base hit. I might be standing on second before too long.
"The most home runs I've ever hit in a season was eight. I had a little streak last season with four in five days, then I didn't hit one again for two months. People seem to think I should be able to hit home runs. I even thought that for a time. They say. 'You've got big arms, you should be able to hit them." But my swing gets messed up when I try for them."
IF YOU LISTEN to the man-in-the-street. or the man-on-the-talk-shows, folks in these parts could care less if Smith clouts dingers. Seemingly half of them are talking about Smith, often in tandem with catcher Keith Moreland, and the cries of "play him full-time" are prevalent.
They like his bat and his speed, of course, but most of all they like Lonnie's devil-may-care approach. He doesn't always do things quite right, especially in the field, but he least he does them like he wants to do them.
He can even take a joke – just watch the Phillies Franks commercial that concludes with him dropping a 10-pack of hot dogs.
"I've heard what some of the fans have said at the ballpark – that I should be playing," Smith said. "I also get mail from time to time. It makes me feel good that people have so much confidence in me. All I can say in reply is 'Thank you very much."'
Don't mention it. And while you're at it, don't suggest to Pete Rose that Lonnie Smith might be the best leadoff hitter in baseball, as premature as that would be at this early stage.
"I'm the best leadoff hitter I've ever seen. I am!" Rose said, dead serious. "A leadoff hitter's job is to get on base. No one in baseball gets on base more than I do. So, who else do you want me to compare him to?"
Beneath that hard-guy shell, though, Rose appreciates Smith's presence as much as anyone.
"I WISH I COULD steal bases like Lonnie does," Pete noted. "We can do a lot of things because of him. We can hit-and-run. He can steal second and I can hit it to the right side. We can play for one run in the first and get it a lot of the time. A single, steal and another single and there it is."
Alas, Lonnie Smith will never produce that rally-starting single from the left side of the plate by pounding a one-hopper over a drawn-in third baseman.
"Lonnie Smith never came to me personally," said Manager Dallas Green, "but as director of the farm system, word came back to me that he wanted to switch-hit. I was against it to some extent because he always hit .300. Hey, you leave .300 alone. You don't experiment in hopes of hitting .400.
"But Lonnie does have a good swing left-handed, a very good swing. I would not put it past him. He's that kind of athlete. He could probably do it."
Then again, there's no need right now to try and find out.
Luzinski Out 3 More Weeks
The right knee of Phillies outfielder Greg Luzinski was operated on this morning. The surgery is expected to keep the Bull – who has been idled with knee problems more than three weeks – out of action approximately three more weeks.
Dr. Phillip Marone performed the surgery in Methodist Hospital. He said he removed "multiple cartilagenous bodies and a small portion of the knee cartilage."
Luzinski has been on the disabled list since July 8. three days after he was forced to the bench when the knee swelled following a game in St. Louis. He had been expected to return to action this week and had resumed workouts last week.
However, the knee swelled again after a workout last Friday. Dr. Marone had X-rays taken Saturday and decided on an arthroscopic examination today. The examination showed the need for surgery. Luzinski was on the operating table two hours.