San Francisco Examiner - September 2, 1980
Giants’ infielders resemble M*A*S*H
By Glenn Schwarz
Between them, Rennie Stennett and Joe Strain have a right arm that would make a sympathetic doctor's head shake.
"If they were put together," Strain said of his shoulder and Stennett’s elbow, "they'd cut if off."
Surgery should not be necessary on either of the outpatients. Their arm miseries, however, detract from the health of the Giants. They have a couple of second basemen who presently could use a designated thrower out there for them.
Stennett's inability to fire fastballs to first base and Si rain's limited function came into focus yesterday, when the Giants lost, 6-4. to 21-game winner Steve Carlton and the Philadelphia Phillies. One of Stennett's increasingly softer throws deprived the Giants of a bailout double play. Strain, fresh off the disabled list, singled as a pinch-hitter but didn't replace Stennett because Joe might be hurling worse than Rennie.
Well, why not Joe Pettini then at second base for a stretch? It could happen, but it also is possible he will be needed more as a shortstop. Johnnie LeMaster again has a severely scraped right hand, acquiring this raw souvenir from a slide along the moon-surface dirt in foul territory.
Giants trainer Joe Liscio said that today Stennett would have yet another examination, including X-rays, of the inflamed elbow that has pestered him the past two months. All Strain can do for the atrophied muscles around his formerly dislocated shoulder is rebuild them through use of the Nautilus machines, and a small barbell he packs around the clubhouse.
"Rennie's arm is real bad and Joe can't throw, either." manager Dave Bristol said. "It's going to take Joe time to rehabilitate. All he can do now is pinch-hit and pinch-run: one of his throws couldn't stop that clock...
"What I admire about Rennie is that he played with that elbow for half a year and didn't complain about it."
He kept that streak alive yesterday. Stennett wouldn't blame his floating throw on the elbow. However, he did knock the treacherous Candlestick infield, saying it was the cause of his second error – which handed the Phillies another run.
Those errors were only the 11th and 12th by Stennett. who has had at best a Bronze Glove season in the field. He was booed by the Labor Day crowd of 16,952. which didn't appreciate the millionaire's play one hit.
"My elbow was getting better, but since we've been back home it's been bothering me," Stennett said. "I don't think the doctors know what's wrong with it except it's inflamed. One in Cincinnati (in July) gave me some pills that didn't help. Another gave me some more pills yesterday.
"I just try to put it out of my mind. But when I come over the top and throw real hard, the elbow hurts. I wind up throwing sidearm.
"It didn't bother me too much today. I bounced that throw because I was off-balance and I rushed it. We just played a bad game today."
And how. In addition to Stennett's mlscues, center fielder Billy North gifted the Phillies with a third run by arming a ball easily 75 feet beyond his intended target. Cutoff men were invisible to North all game long.
The Giants' leadoff hitter partially atoned by reaching base four times against Carlton, beginning in the first when North doubled and scored on Jim Wohlford's two-base hit. Philadelphia drew even in the second when with two on, Stennett gloved Larry Bowa's DP-on-the-platter grounder, stepped on second and then bounced his throw past first.
Three singles, the last by Mike Schmidt, gave Carlton a 2-1 lead over Ed Whitson in the third. But the Giants, who made probable Cy Young Award winner Carlton sweat for both his victories over them this summer, tied it in the fourth on Pete Rose's botch of Stennett's grounder, LeMaster's sacrifice and Mike Sadek's single.
Singles by Greg Luzinski, Manny Trillo and Bowa, with North's wild throw tossed in, made it 4-2 Phillies in the fifth. The Giants regained a tie in the seventh on Strain's single, North's walk, Pettini's 10th sacrifice, Wohlford's fly ball and Ivie's single.
By this time, the Phillies were aware that the Pittsburgh Pirates had split their doublehader and that a win here would get them a share of the National League East lead. They also were aware that the people who pay their salaries could be happier, Phils vice president Paul Owens having addressed them in a pre-game meeting.
"He believes we have a good ballclub and we're on the track to w in," Phils manager Dallas Green said of Owens' apparently not entirely complimentary speech. "He believes we should put away our individual problems."
Blocking their advance in the eighth was Greg Minton, who had not allowed an earned run in his previous 11 appearances. But the Phillies went right after the Giant reliever.
Bowa singled behind second base, dashed 90 feet on a wild pitch and then covered the final 180 on Bob Boone's soft single to center. The Giants got an out at the plate on Carlton's infield single, then the pitcher was wild pitched along and scored when Greg Gross' grounder kicked off Stennett's glove.
"You don't wild-pitch a guy to second and you don't throw a high slider to an eighth-place hitter," Minton said as he chewed on his fifth defeat.
Carlton, as always, dispensed no quotes. But everybody knows that fellow's arm is just fine.
The Giants wish they could say the same about their second basemen's.
NOTES: Left fielder Wohllord made a marvelous sliding catch of Rose's first-inning foul fly and got the colliding LeMaster's knee to his head for his effort. Despite a lump and a headache, Wohlford stayed in, as did LeMaster with his ugly hand punctures. "I wanted to hug them both," Bristol said, "but I was afraid I'd hurt them.".. Green said the Phils would go with a four-man rotation down the stretch: Larry Christenson (who pitches tonight vs Vida Blue), Dick Ruthven, Bob Walk and Carlton. "Those are the guys who have taken us this far," Green said… Giants bullpen coach John Van Ornum is recovering from elbow surgery.