San Francisco Examiner - June 21, 1980

Is McCovey next to go?


By Glenn Schwarz


When the numbers game was played out last night inside Candle-wind, the totals read: five Giants runs, one Philadelphia Phillies run, two Giants roster changes, one Giants idol rumor still fluttering.


Before Allen Ripley closed out his club's busy Friday with a complete-game victory in gale-warning conditions, the Giants finally accommodated a couple members of the I-want-out fraternity.


Ed Halicki and Marc Hill each was moved for the $20,000 waiver price, the California Angels claiming the pitcher and the Seattle Mariners the catcher. With that, the Giants removed first baseman Mike Ivie from the disabled list and called up pitcher Bill Bordley from their Phoenix farm.


And, if what Giants sources whisper is true, this redesigning job is not finished yet. The next player who may clear out his Candlestick locker, however, would do so against his wishes.


Sources say that tomorrow could be Willie McCovey's final day in a Giants uniform. The word is, should he refuse to retire, the 42-year-old will be  released.


"I wouldn't venture too far with that," manager Dave Bristol said vaguely when asked about the McCovey talk blowing around. "For now, we only have these changes. We'll have to see how things work out. I'm not going to say we will or won't do anything more."


All the signs, though, point to the Giants asking McCovey to quit – something he said as recently as last weekend that he had no intention of doing until he hit 15 more homers and achieved a sixth-place all-time ranking. He would not get the opportunity with the Giants, Bristol signaling a hint to the four-decade man by starting rookie Rich Murray at first base the past 13 games.


Bristol’s early-season diplomatic policy was that as long as McCovey was on the team, the manager would play him occasionally.  But he has appeared only once, as a pinch hitter, since June 6.  And now Bristol clearly wants to use the youthful Murray and the rejuvenated Ivie – possibly sometimes putting the former on first and the latter in left field – instead of the old-timer with the present .198 batting average and one homer (career No. 522).


“We have a lot of maneuverability with Ivie and Murray,” Bristol said.  “Murray can play third, too, and Ivie can play left.  The games will dictate how we work Ivie back in.”


Last night, Ripley dictated terms to the Phils, who again froze up in the Candlestick wind tunnel.  While the hot Giants made it 8 of 11.


The second start as a Giant was even superior to Ripley’s first, back on May 26, when he rationed one run to the Atlanta Braves in seven-plus innings.  The right hander allowed a first-inning run on three singles (Bob Boone got the RBI), then chilled the Phils on one walk and four more singles, none after the fifth inning.


“Could he pitch again tomorrow?” Bristol said with a laugh before designating June 29 doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers as Ripley’s next start.  “He threw exceptionally.  That’s a good hitting lineup and you’ve done a day’s work when you stop (Mike) Schmidt and (Greg) Luzinski like that.”


Most of the Giants pitchers’ documented success against the Phils’ mashers, especially at the park they love to hate, has been because of breaking balls.  Ripley’s out pitcher on major-league home run leader Schmidt and Luzinski was the slider.


“My slider was good early.  I only made one back pitch, to McBride in the first inning,” Ripley (2-1) said.  “Then I started throwing the fastball because the wind was blowing in and I decided to let them hit the ball in the air.”


With a nasty, gusting crosswind whipping through the yard, the lousy Friday night crowd of 9.490 (not everybody wanted to watch Duran-Leonard) did not expect a home run derby.  The player were predicting none would be hit.


Jack Clark, however, might be able to drive a ball through a hurricane these days.  In the fifth inning, two outs, nobody on, score 1-1, he powered a 3-0 Dan Larson pitch over the fence in left-center for his 13th homer.  Then, two innings later, he drilled a 400-foot double to center.


So, entering today’s contest, Clark had three consecutive game-winning RBI, nine hits in his last 13 at-bats and five homers in the past 12 games.  To say nothing of the admiration of teammates and foes alike:  Pete Rose guessed that if Clark tagged that Larson offering in windless Veterans Stadium , it would have been a third-deck shot.


"I wasn't trying to hit a home run. The way the wind was blowing, I didn't think anybody could hit it out," Clark said. "I guess I got it high enough so the wind didn't push it down "


The Phillies prayed that the weather improved overnight. They would not be surprised that the Giants pitchers have a home ERA of 2.32. No more than the Phils were shocked last night when their big hitters failed to produce and their acclaimed fielders made errors, center fielder Garry Maddox and second baseman Manny Trillo each committing No. 1.


“You know it's Candlestick, you expect the unexpected," said Maddox, whose drop of Jim Wohlford’s sixth inning twisting fly pinned two unearned runs on loser Larson. "No question about it, that was a ball you should be able lo catch. But the wind blew my glove and that’s why I wasn't able to stay with it."


The kind of thing the Giants like to hear. Last night's win was their 18th in 28 home games.


"We should use this park lo our advantage,” Wohlford said, "Teams just hate to come in here, but it doesn't bother the Giants."


Whoever they may be.


NOTES: Bordley, struggling in his second year of Triple-A ball, was surprised yesterday when he was told in Phoenix to head for the airport. His Phoenix numbers in 15 games (14 starts) were 4-6 with a 5 63 ERA. Bristol said he wanted Bordley with the big club so pitching coach Don McMahon could work with him... Halickl wasted little time splitting from the only big league club he has known (0-0 this year, 52-65 career). He vacated his locker earlier in the day and Murray had moved in by batting practice. Hill, a Giant since he was traded by St. Louis after the 1974 season, was a cheerful packer. "If there was anywhere I wanted to go. it was Seattle," said Hill (hitting .171 in limited duty). "I talked lo Lou Gorman (the Mariners’ GM) and he said I'd be doing a lot of catching.”