Atlantic City Press - March 12, 1980

Luzinski’s Ready For ‘80 Season


CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) – Greg Luzinski spent the winter trying to get his act together, both mentally and physically. 


Luzinski’s 1979 season was one that could be described in two words — utter frustration. His once powerful bat was silent. The fans who idolized him his previous seven years with the Philadelphia Phillies booed unmercifully.


Greg Luzinski, the offensive catalyst that helped win three straight National League East Division titles, booed in Philadelphia. 


At first, Luzinski admitted the derision made him slightly paranoid. Then, he rationalized that he had set such high standards and the team did so poorly, he had become merely a symbol of failure to live up to expectations. 


“I think it all started in spring training (1979) when we were picked by almost everybody to win again,” Luzinski said. “There was the Pete Rose acquisition. Everybody said we had the division clinched.” 


Personally, Luzinski slipped from 101 RBI to 81, from 35 home runs to 18. His fielding suffered. It didn't make any difference that he played with a thigh muscle injury most of the season. 


There was a touch of irony to Luzinski’s season of discontent. He hit .303 on the road and .187 at home. 


"There had to be some connection," surmised Luzinski, a quiet sensitive type despite his massive physical proportions. "I know the (home) fans really bothered me. But I think I’m ready to handle it this year.” 


Luzinski pared his 235-pound frame to a spring training 217 through diet and a winter-long program of exercise. He also readjusted his mental attitude. 


"The mental awareness that you are ready to play the season is important. I feel good at bat. If I can go into the season in the proper frame of mind and hitting the ball, I’m not going to think about fans' reaction." 


Luzinski explained Luzinski has spent a lot of time watching films of his stance, his swing, his follow through. He and coach Billy DeMars have watched slow motion action. They learned some things. 


"For one thing, because of my leg injury, my swing was a lot longer than it should be," Luzinski said. “I’ve worked off the batting tee to regain my short swing. That's what I want to do, be short and quick with the swing." 


While Luzinski has taken off a lot of weight, he's not convinced that has thing to do with his ability to hit. He says, however, that he's done it just to see happens. 


Luzinski is trying something else new. He’s wearing regular eyeglasses at the plate. He had used contacts. 


"I've had a little bit of trouble with contacts. I've gone from hard to soft lenses and things like that. Some people can't adapt to contacts. So I’ve been experimenting here with the glasses. I thought it would be a good test with the heat, see if the sweat drips on the lenses. If they work out I’ll go into the season wearing them.” 


Luzinski is trying to toss off the 1979 season as just one of those years. 


"Even the guys who had good years were frustrated because we ended in fourth place," he noted. "If we can stay injury free I think we’ll come back." 


This is the first time Luzinski finds himself in the role of a player trying to make a comeback, and he insists he s ready to meet the challenge. He's just 29, and his best years should be ahead.

Training Games Open For Phillies


CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) – Philadelphia Phillies manager Dallas Green says he plans to begin six-inning, intra-squad games the final two days before the start of Grapefruit League exhibition baseball. 


“I'm tickled with the condition of the club and the way they've been working," Green said of his National League charges Tuesday. 


“We’re going to continue our preliminary exercises and drills on a few fundamentals when we take the field in the morning. But at noon each of the next two days we’ll play intra-squad games.” 


Carlos Arroyo, Jose Martinez, Dick Ruthven and Jim Wright will pitch today, he said, with Rawly Eastwick, Kevin Saucier, Lerrin LaGrow and Dan Larson getting the nod Thursday. 


Grapefruit League play starts Friday.

Players Might Wait Until After Openers To Strike


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Baseball’s Players Association may strike, but the chances appear slim it will be Opening Day — April 9. 


The association's executive board appears to be planning a power play if it fails to conclude or make real progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement with the owners. 


The executive board's announcement last week of a possible strike was carefully worded. It never specifically mentioned when such action would be taken. It said "on or after April 1," which could mean, for example, Memorial Day. 


The players, if they strike want to protect themselves and at the same time hit the owners where it hurts the most — in the wallet. Striking in April and much of May would be damaging, but not crippling. 


In April and May many games are postponed by rain, snow and cold weather. There also are a number of off days. The crowds comparatively are smaller and the effect of a strike at its lowest ebb. 


Also, if the players open the season and carry on negotiations until late May or early June thev will have earned three paychecks, in many cases enough money to carry them comfortably through the season." 


The players also have an insurance fund to help the lower paid guys. Each has contributed some $1800 from bubble gum endorsement money, the total approaching $1 million. Whether the owners believe it or not, the players are preparing for a strike at some point if agreement isn't reached or substantial progress made. 


The owners should be aware of this potential association strategy, but their past actions in allowing the inmates to gain control of the asylum could belie their thinking. 


The owners also have a strike fund. And if they are as unified in their determination to regain some semblance of control of the game’s salary structure and reduce the impact of the re-entry draft could be ready for the players’ strategy. 


The imminent danger from the owners posture seems to be an inclination to think the players are bluffing. The players, however, claim they are not playing Russian roulette. 


The players' attitude, as indicated by the daily overwhelming votes of the rank and file "to support its executive board, is that they have all to lose and little or nothing to gain by giving in to management. 


If the players buckle, the union could go down the drain. They not only have to carry a big stick, they also have to use it if necessary. And every player you talk to has great faith in the association’s chief negotiator, Marvin Miller, whose tactics at the bargaining table in the last 14 years have changed the face of the game’s player-owner relations. 


There is agreement on both sides that the bottom line in these complex negotiations is the free agent compensation issue. 


The owners claim it must be changed to give them a player of major league caliber or a potential star from the minors rather than the amateur draft pick they now get after losing a free agent. 


The association, however, hasn't budged a millimeter in this area.