Wilmington Morning News - March 10, 1980

Tugger rebuts talk of trades, last year


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


CLEARWATER, Fla. – All the stories about a trade to Texas didn't really bother Tug McGraw. But when a reporter offered a list of outstanding restaurants in the Dallas area, McGraw blew his stack.


"He thought he was being funny, but I wasn't laughing," said the Phillies' zany left-handed reliever. "After all, I hadn't heard a word from the ball club. You know, I'm a 5-10 player (10 or more in the majors, five with one club), so they could not trade me without my consent. I felt if they were planning a deal they would ask for my consent first."


The deal with Texas for Sparky Lyle has apparently cooled, so for Frank Edwin McGraw, it's business as usual.


And the first order in that area is putting the nightmare of 1979 behind.


"Hey, wait a minute," said Tug. "Everybody seems to trunk l was terrible last year. I still don't consider it that bad even though I had several bad outings. If you knock off six or seven games, I had a terrific year."


Those bad games, however, will be most remembered by Phillies' fans who watched their heroes fall to fourth place in the National League Eastern Division. On four occasions, McGraw gave up grand-slam home runs to tie a league record.


"I had a chance to set a record against Houston when they loaded the bases on me, but I put the team ahead of my personal records," kidded McGraw. "I got Terry Puhl to hit into a doubleplay."


Overall, McGraw was in 65 games last year, had a 4-3 record and a 5.14 earned run average. He led the Phillies in saves with 16, bringing his career total to 144, 59 with the Phils.


Even though he suffered a slight fracture of the right forearm on May 4 while shagging fly balls in the outfield at Los Angeles, McGraw was outstanding though June. He. had a 3-0 record, a 2.25 ERA in 24 innings with eight saves.


Then, the Phillies really began to have their pitching problems and the bullpen helped pay the price. In 12 games in July, Tug was 0-2 and had a 9.00 earned run average.


"I think Danny Ozark was a nice guy, a fine human being, but when it came down to managing a baseball team, one of his weaknesses was handling a pitching staff," said McGraw. "You might say I was overworked and it was true; you might say I was underworked and that was true. It is easier, though, to say there was no consistency with me and several of the other pitchers in the way he used us. This makes it tough to maintain a groove, especially for a relief pitcher.


"At times, especially in the second half it was very difficult to maintain my concentration and enthusiasm and my positive attitude because of the problems we were having. And it was difficult to physically stay in the groove because of the inconsistent way I was being handled. I don't offer those as excuses because as a professional I should be able to cope with those things and still maintain a degree of success."


McGraw said on many occasions both he and Ron Reed were told to warm up in the bullpen as early as the second and third innings.


"When you get warmed up inning after inning and are not used until the eighth or ninth, you don't have much left," he said. "Over the years you learn to conserve yourself in the bullpen, but when you are warmed up five or six times in a game, it takes its toll."


McGraw, like most of the other pitchers here, are solidly behind new Manager Dallas Green.


"Dallas will delegate his pitching responsibilities much more accurately," said McGraw. "Ron and I will be the short men, so and so the middle men and so and so the long men. I feel like if I stay healthy I should be right back where I have been before. I have a lot of confidence in the way Dallas handles his pitching staff."


Spring training after a week under Green has been an enjoyable, hard-working experience for McGraw.


"Often times people equate hard work with, displeasure," said McGraw. "It is fun to work hard. This is reminiscent to me of the late 1960s under Gil Hodges at the Mets. As far as this camp is concerned, there is no comparison.


"In previous Phillies' camps that I have been in it was a guessing game from day to day as to exactly what was going to be done. It seemed like a light bulb went on each morning and somebody said, 'Let's try this today.' There didn't seem to be any consistency or direction to the various drills or exercises. Now we have the feeling Dallas knows what's going on every minute of every day, from the time camp opens until it breaks. You can ask any coach at any time what is being done and he knows. In the past, that was different.


"I often times in the past remember forgetting what my group was supposed to do next and asking a coach. He would say it was not his responsibility. Now, there is no passing the buck."


EXTRA POINTS – The Phils, following a Sunday schedule, started their workout two hours late yesterday and the emphasis was on bunting... Garry Maddox is a candidate for the Robert Clemente Award, given each year to a player who does the most outside of baseball... Greg Luzinski won it two years ago... It will be presented at a banquet on Thursday night... Cappy Harada, international division director of the Major League Baseball Promotion Corp., is visiting the Phils camp this week.