Reading Eagle - February 7, 1980
‘Carlton Will Run’ – Green
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
POTTSVILLE – Dallas Green has become more definite on one point and more confident on another regarding his pitching staff.
“Steve Carlton will run,” Green stated flatly at Wednesday’s stop of the Phillies press caravan which is touring eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey this week (it comes to Reading in alternate years).
“I don’t know where some people got the idea that I’m evading the issue,” said the rookie manager. “The media made a bigger thing of it than it is. I guess it gives them something controversial to write about.
“Steve Carlton will have a different training program than the others, because he’s always followed a different one and because he’s had great success with it. (Carlton’s program is more rigorous than the one other pitchers follow, but it has not included running.)
“But Steve Carlton will run, because he’s part of the team and we’re stressing ‘we’ this year,” Green continued.
Translated, Carlton will run more than last year, but not as much as the rest of the staff. “Yes, you could call it a compromise,” Green agreed.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to Steve about this, but I don’t expect any trouble. He’s the leader of the staff, and he wants to be the leader. I’m sure he’ll see it that way. Now if he doesn’t, then I’ve got a problem.”
Green may be blaming the controversy on the media, but it was his own pitcher which raised it first here. “If Steve Carlton don’t run, I ain’t running,” said Randy Lerch to the diners at a combined service-club luncheon.
Lerch was trying to be funny, which is difficult for Randy, but you can bet it wasn’t all in fun.
The one new facet of the Phillies staff since Green’s visit to Reading last week for the Hot Stovers banquet has been the signing of veteran reliever Lerrin LaGrow as a free agent.
“I’m tickled to death to get him,” said Green. “We hope he can fill the bill in Brusstar’s spot.”
“He’s a good worker with good experience,” said G.M. Paul Owens. “We might be darn glad we got him. He’s got a good fast ball, slider, sinker. You know, we tried to get him from the Tigers back when we sent them Woody Fryman, and they wouldn’t give him up.”
LaGrow, 31, managed to lose 19 games for the Tigers back in 1974, which takes some doing. The right-hander traveled to the Cards and then the White Sox. He had a fine year in Chicago in 1977, going 7-3, 2.45, allowing just 81 hits in 99 innings.
But in ’78 he fell to 6-5, 4.40, and was 0-3, 9.00 last year before moving on to the Dodgers. “He had problems with a bone spur in his foot in July and August,” Owens reported, “but he had a helluva September.”
Indeed, LaGrow ended up 5-1, 3.41 for the Dodgers with four saves in 37 inning in 31 games. He tried free agency, was picked only by the Red Sox, and was free to negotiate with anybody.
“There were several clubs in our league which wanted him, but he wanted to come with us,” said Owens.
Paul, like Green the week before, played down the possibility of a major deal before the season opens. He’d like to get a good pitcher, but so would almost everyone else.
Seeking RH Hitter
More likely would be a deal for a right-handed hitting reserve, either a veteran outfielder (“an Ollie-Brown type”) or an infielder who could play three positions and hit more than Buddy Harrelson.
“I wouldn’t want to have to go with Buddy three weeks at a time, said Owens. “Keith Moreland is going to help us with right-handed pinch-hitting, but if we carry only two catchers, you can’t use him too early in a game.”
The other right-handed swingers on the bench, as of now, would be rookie Lonnie Smith and veteran Mike Anderson.
Owens admits he wouldn’t mind getting switch-hitting Billy Smith from the Orioles. Smith, 26, hit .249 in 68 games after .260 in 85 the year before, with a total of 11 homers in the two years. He started the first two games of last year’s World Series at second base.
In return, the Orioles would like to get Lonnie Smith, whom Green does not want to let go.
“I’m not disappointed we didn’t make a major deal,” said Owens. If our pitchers just get healthy, we’re all right there, and I’ll match the rest of the team with anybody. (Owens thus echoed Green’s statements of the week before.) I never considered at any point breaking up this club.”