Wilmington Morning News - March 18, 1980

Ruthven brightens Green’s day


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Dallas Green didn't even try to be smug. "Looking at Dick Ruthven and everybody else, I'd say we're over our pitching injuries," the manager said. "It's a good feeling."


Dick Ruthven pitched three strong innings and catcher Keith Moreland collected three hits as the Phillies whipped Boston 9-3 here yesterday for their third straight exhibition victory.


"Sure, I like to win," said Green, "but that's not the bottom line today. The bottom line was Dick Ruthven and Jim Wright. This was a big day."


It was just about this time last spring when Ruthven was worrying about bone chips near his elbow. Earlier during the training period he pitched batting practice and his elbow swelled up the size of a grapefruit. Although he vaulted to a 6-0 record, the chips eventually caused him to have problems, go on the disabled list twice, and eventually have surgery in September.


"I felt fine today, no problems," said Ruthven, who pitched three innings, allowing three singles and an earned run.


“I thought I had good control and was around the plate all day. For a first outing, I have to be pleased. I can't speak for the other guys coming back from injuries, but I feel super."


The improved Ruthven look certainly didn't escape Herm Starrette, the Phils' pitching coach.


"I can tell he feels more comfortable than he did last year," said Starrette. "I can tell if there's any pain by the expression on a guy's face. I didn't see anything bad on his face while he pitched, and I saw him smiling after he was finished."


Green had only planned on having Ruthven pitch two innings, but it took the right-hander just 32 pitches to get through the first two, so he worked the third.


"Tomorrow will be important' Ruthven added. "I will be excited if there is no stiffness, but frankly I don't expect any problems. I really am not surprised about today because I've worked very hard. I'm in the best condition of my career."


Ruthven said he used a newly-found screwball on occasions, but Green argued that it was not a true scroogie.


"I think it was more of a change-up," said the manager.


"I developed the pitch last year when I was trying to invent something to get the hitters out with," Ruthven said. "I think it is a good pitch for me."


Wright had not thrown since last spring when he fractured his arm working in a "B" game. He worked an inning and allowed just one hit.


"The toughest part about today was going to the mound," said the right-hander whose career has been' plagued with injuries. "I had no rhythm at all, but I think the fact I did not walk anybody was encouraging. I threw one slider in the game and had no problems. Later, I threw some on the sidelines and felt fine. I had a good fastball, but didn't make any attempt to throw with all my velocity."


Moreland had a triple, two singles, a stolen base and scored three times.


"I think I'm swinging the bat fairly well for this time in the spring. It's a good feeling," said Moreland.