Atlantic City Press - March 14, 1980

LaGrow’s Ride Is Rougher


CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Lerrin LaGrow discovered that declaring free agent status and going through the re-entry draft isn't always the road to the bank.


It can be a detour to oblivion.


LaGrow is in the spring training camp of the Philadelphia Phillies under a one year contract that doesn’t even guarantee him a job unless he makes the club.


LaGrow’s status is a far cry from that he enjoyed in 1977 and 1978, when he was among the best relief pitchers in the American League.


LaGrow was sold by the Chicago White Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers last May. He developed a bone spur on his left heel, later a sore shoulder muscle. He was on the disabled list from July 30 to Aug. 25, then came back to post a 3-0 record and save two games with a September ERA of 0.75. He had surgery on his left heel in October. 


Despite his late excellence, LaGrow said he felt his days in Los Angeles were numbered. He had the feeling the Dodgers were going to sign Baltimore reliever Don Stanhouse, who had played out his option. This would leave no room for LaGrow. 


“And sure enough the Dodgers said that if they drafted Stanhouse (which they did). there would not be a place for me.” LaGrow explained/ "Which was what I wanted to hear before I made a commitment with somebody else. They finally came out and said it." 


LaGrow said he really didn't feel the Dodgers negotiated his contract in good faith. “We presented an offer to them. They came back with an offer, then said, ‘Well we'll have to see’ and never came back,” LaGrow said.


“I wasn't looking for tons of money," LaGrow insisted. “My record didn’t support that. But we never even got back together… I think they stalled until they found out whether they would get Stanhouse.” 


So LaGrow threw himself on the free agent market. He heard from five teams before the re-entry draft, including the Phillies. The vagaries of the draft, however are such that none of those five teams actually selected LaGrow. 


The Boston Red Sox, whom he hadn't heard from, were the only team to take LaGrow at the selection meeting. Then, according to LaGrow, they held him off and negotiated a big money agreement with former New York Mets’ pitcher Skip Lockwood. 


“I had that surgery in October, which really didn't help interest teams in my services," LaGrow noted. “I really didn't feel that would affect me that much, with the previous two seasons I had, 1977 and '78, both very-good years. But evidently it did, because that is mostly what I heard about, the surgery.” 


LaGrow, 31, a 6-foot-5, 230 pounder, feels he can do a job for the Phillies in short relief. 


"The short relief role is what I like,” said the righthander from Arizona who saved 25 games in 1977 and 16 in 1978 for the White Sox. 


If LaGrow can pitch back to those performances he’ll fill a space in the bullpen the Phillies have been desperately trying to bolster since last season ended. 


LaGrow explained that his experience should demonstrate that not everybody who enters the free agent market is going to get a million dollars.


“You have to keep your perspective. It’s only the people that you read about continually, the (Pete) Roses… the big name people that are in the newspapers. They're the ones who are going to get the money. They have good proven track records, plus they are drawing cards.” 


LaGrow, however, isn't bitter. He knew he took a chance with the October surgery. He says the Phillies are a contending club, and figures if he can help them come back in 1980, he can test the free agent waters again in ’81. 


He's got a one year contract at the same money he received last year with the Dodgers, and as a six-year I player can opt for free agency again next year.

Grebey Still Sees No Reason for Strike


ST PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Ray Grebey, chief negotiator for major league baseball, said Thursday he saw no reason for players to stage a strike prior to reaching a new working agreement. 


“They have everything going their way,” he told an informal press conference at Al Lang Stadium. “Salary levels are the highest they've ever been. They have just had a raise in pensions and their fringe benefits are the best ever.” 


He made the statement when a reporter asked him if he thought there was a 50-50 chance of a strike. 


“I don’t want to put a figure on it because I don't think they have any reason to strike.” 


He said he felt some progress had been made at recent meetings between him and Marvin Miller, director of the Major League Players Association, but added: "The players have not budged substantially from their original demands.” 


Grebey was in St Petersburg to visit the St Louis Cardinals training headquarters and a television segment for a future “Sixty Minutes" on CBS.