Camden Courier-Post - March 1, 1980

As pitchers and Boone go, so will go the Phils


By Rusty Pray, Of the Courier-Post


CLEARWATER. Fla. – In one corner of the Phillies' Carpenter Complex clubhouse there is an apparatus that might have been put to painful use during the Inquisition. It is called CYBEX II, and it reveals much about how the Phillies have changed in their attitude toward injuries.


The machine, which measures muscular torque, has been in use for quite some time, but the Phils never saw much need for it until this year. Not that they had a cavalier attitude toward injuries in the past. After last year, however, the club felt it wise to invest in the device.


It used to be that trainer Don Seger depended upon his own experience and the word of the players to diagnose muscle injuries. That practice, no doubt, will continue. But with the CYBEX II, Seger now will know what muscles on which player are weak and which are strong.


"If there's a weakness in a joint or muscle, this will show it." said Seger, who must test every arm and leg in camp.


One of Seger’s test subjects yesterday was catcher Bob Boone, who still is rehabilitating a left knee that snapped on him late last season. Boone's recovery is being monitored with more than passing concern by everyone on the club.


Indeed, of all the players coming off injuries – and they are legion – Boone and righthander Dick Ruthven figure most prominently in the Phillies' plans. The two other principals, pitchers Warren Brusstar and Jim Wright, are not being counted upon this season.


Ruthven's value, of course, lies in what he can do. After coming to the Phils in a trade with Atlanta in June of 1978. Ruthven won 13 games and was one of the big reasons why the club captured its third straight National League Eastern Division championship. Last year Ruthven won his first six decisions before bone chips in his elbow – something the Phillies had known about during spring training – began bothering him in mid-May. He pitched only 21 innings over the second half of the season, winning one game, and was on the disabled list twice before pitching for the last time on Aug. 8. Soon after, doctors removed six bone chips from his right elbow.


"He was the big reason we made it to the playoffs (1978)." Boone said after submitting himself to Seger's CYBEX II torture. "He came in and won 13 games and was as good a pitcher as there was in the National League. So it's important for him to get back to that point."


Ruthven threw for the first time from a mound on Wednesday and yesterday threw to Boone for about 15 minutes. His only problem seems to be some numbness in the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand.


"I had it last year and I thought it had gone away." said Ruthven. "When the doctors took the (bone) chips out, they also removed some scar tissue from a nerve.


"It doesn't bother me pitching, but if I slap my hand on my thigh or something it kind of tingles."


Perhaps less obvious is the importance of Boone returning completely rehabilitated. Last year, before he tore ligaments in his knee Sept. 13 during a game in Shea Stadium, Boone had made great strides in virtually every  phase of his game. An All-Star for the third time in his career, Boone improved his defense to the point where he led the league in fewest passed balls (two) among catchers who played more than 115 games. He made only seven errors all season and was hitting a robust .310 as late as July 31, finishing with a career-high batting average of .286. Most importantly, he gained the confidence and respect – however grudging in some quarters – of the pitchers.


Boone, who underwent surgery Sept. 17, has been working out on his own since a cast was removed from his leg in early November. From isometrics to pumping iron on Nautilus machines, to – believe it or not – funning in a swimming pool for 30 minutes a day, Boone has been doing whatever is necessary to restore the 2½ inches of thigh muscle and 1½ inches of calf muscle he lost through atrophy.


"I can catch right now, although I still have a long way to go," he said. "It's important for all of us to get healthy because, if we're healthy, we'll be right there.


"That encompasses a lot. We have four or five starters who, when they're healthy, make us as good as anybody in the league. When they're not. we're as bad as anybody.


"In a nutshell, as the pitchers went, so we went last year."


In a nutshell, as the pitchers – and Boone – go, so go the Phillies this year. It is a formula the club has learned the hard way.


PHIL UPS – City of Clearwater is looking at a feasibility study for the building of a proposed domed stadium... Architects say the dome is needed to shade fans from the summer sun... Tampa-Clearwater area is attempting to attract a major league franchise by 1985... Phils are hiking with interest at Texas lefthander Jon Matlack. who seems completely recovered from elbow surgery... They would probably be willing to part with Bake McBride for Matlack's services... Lefthander Steve Carlton was among the pitchers to throw yesterday.

In Brief (Excerpt)


Phillies Tickets


PHILADELPHIA – Phillies tickets for individual games go on sale today (9 a.m.) at the Veterans Stadium ticket office windows.


The club also will hold its version of a Spring Clearance Sale today and tomorrow. A variety of items, big and small, will be on display at the 200 level concourse behind home plate.


Included among the items are the home run display at the stadium, which includes the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia Phil and Phyllis. Each figure stands about 15 feet tall.


The hours for the sale will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow.