Allentown Morning Call - March 18, 1980

Ruthven passes first test; Phils win 9-3


Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – That sigh of relief you may have heard yesterday afternoon blowing out of the southeast belongs collectively to Dick Ruthven, Dallas Green and Herm Starrette. 


"I guess you could say I'm elated," said Ruthven after going three innings in the visiting Phillies' 9-3 rout of the Boston Red Sox, "but not really that surprised. I've been running and swimming and I'm probably in the best shape I've ever been. But you still never know until you have the live competition, so I feel very relieved right now." 


Yesterday's game – which gave the Phillies their third win in four starts if you're keeping score – marked the competitive return of Ruthven after offseason elbow injury. Ruthven threw 45 pitches, allowing three hits and one run in his three-inning stint. The run scored in the third on a double play ball hit by Jerry Remy after singles by third baseman Glenn Hoffmann and catcher Bob Montgomery. 


And Ruthven had a challenge with the loaded Boston lineup. He got Fred Lynn, Jim Rice and Carlton Fisk on a groundout, popup and groundout respectively. 


"I was happy to see those guys up there because it was a test for me," said Ruthven. "That wasn't the Toronto Blue Jays out there.”


No, but it WAS the Toronto Blue Jays out there after manager Don Zimmer went to his two-platoon system in the top of the sixth inning. The Phillies took advantage of some shaky Boston fielding and some shakier pitching (among the victims were Keith MacWhorter and Win Remmerswaal, the latter widely-known as the best pitcher ever to be born in The Hague) to score six runs in the last three innings. 


But the big story was Ruthven and everybody knew it. 


"He was really throwing loose and easy out there," said manager Green. "We were only going to use him two but he said he felt good so we kept him in there. Obviously, we'll feel even better if he wakes up tomorrow morning and there's no pain but I don't think there will be any problems." 


Ruthven was happy with everything except his fastball. 


"Everytime I tried to pop it, I was high with it," said Ruthven who won his first six starts last season before the injury problems set in. 


"It felt really uncoordinated and awkward. It wasn't a problem with the arm, really. It was just the rhythm. I could've thrown it more except that I would've walked 10 guys if I had fooled myself into thinking I could blow it in there." 


Ruthven said he was pleased with his curveball, his changeup and his screwball, which he is working hard on developing. Well, Dick Ruthven calls it a screwball, anyway. Green and pitching coach Starrette call it a ‘turnover.’  The turnover  is kind of hard to explain but it can be reported that it has nothing to do with the opposition getting the ball out-of-bounds. 


"I don't really have to turn my elbow over when I throw the screwball," explained Ruthven, "so I'm not afraid to throw it. I just feel I need the pitch to help me with the lefties." 


"I don't know what Dick said but I KNOW he threw only two screwballs," said Starrette. "I didn't want him turning the ball over and I told him that.


Starrette was also pleased with two of the other pitchers used, Rawly Eastwick and Jim Wright. Eastwick got two of the outs in his one inning with his steadily-improving split-fingered fastball, while Wright appears to be recovered from the broken right arm which kept him out of action all last season. 


Less impressive, however, was Dickie Noles in his two innings. He allowed three hits and only one run which he wild-pitched in but he was hit hard.


"We're concerned about him (Noles) because he's cutting the ball, leading with his elbow," said Green. "We showed him on videotape what he's doing wrong and he realizes it. But a lot of times a young pitcher will forget things more than an older pitcher because he's so eager to go out and impress somebody right away." 


The Phillies have gotten themselves into a real numbers game with 22 pitchers in camp, a list that has to be pared down to 10. Wright has virtually no chance of sticking and Noles, despite his promising rookie season last year, still has to prove himself. The Phillies want to keep Eastwick, particularly if the split-finger pitch develops into Sutterian proportions, but his status still isn't certain, either.


NOTES Catcher Keith Moreland had a big day for the Phils with a triple to right-center and two singles. Though he runs with a piano on his back, he even managed to steal second base when neither shortstop Julio Valdez nor second baseman Stan Papi covered second… 


Larry Bowa has been complaining about Green's batting him eighth so he must've been positively thrilled by batting ninth, which he did yesterday because of the designated hitter…


Lonnie Smith stole his fourth base of the season and hasn't been caught yet…


Steve Carlton starts today against Montreal at Daytona Beach.