Wilmington Morning News - March 20, 1980
Green regime: a team shaping up
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Chalk one up for Dallas Green. A big one.
The Phillies clobbered Montreal 11-1 at Jack Russell Stadium yesterday and when the dust finally settled, the new manager said his get-tough conditioning program had a lot to do with what the 4,606 paying customers saw.
"We're really swinging the bats well right now," said Green. "I think one of the big reasons for this is the fact everyone came to spring training in outstanding shape. Nobody has to worry about playing himself into shape. Instead, everybody has been concentrating on baseball and I think that showed today."
Even the typical malcontents have praised Green's rigid spring-training routine. Del Unser, a veteran of 12 major-league seasons, says it is the best-organized camp he has ever sweated through.
The Phils collected 16 hits on the hot afternoon, with 14 of those coming off starter Ross Grimsley. Montreal Manager Dick Williams had planned to have the bearded left-hander work four innings, but he was finally rescued in the fourth when the Phils scored six times, sending 11 batters to me plate.
Mike Schmidt, who is hitting .700 so far, led the Phils' assault. He blasted an opposite-field homer, doubled, singled and drove in three runs. Greg Luzinski, who is impressing his severest critics, had a double and a single in three at-bats and drove in two runs.
But in a sense, the day belonged to Bob Boone. The catcher made his first start since last Sept. 13 in Shea Stadium when Joel Youngblood crashed into him at home plate.
Boone, who had knee surgery to repair ligaments four days after the collision, doubled home two runs in the three-run first.
"Mechanically, I felt fine," said Boone, who caught two innings. "I had a little trouble squatting between pitches, but overall there were no problems. I thought my balance was good and I was able to stride properly. I had no trouble setting the target.”
Boone put himself through a grueling rehabilitation program during the off-season and says if the season were to start right now, he would be ready.
"But there is no need to rush it," he said. "I have until April 11 and intend to point for that game."
"We're bringing him along about the same as we would a pitcher who had off-season surgery," said Green. "He'll have Thursday off, then catch a few innings on Friday. In between, he'll continue his program with Gus Hoefling."
Randy Lerch was the winning pitcher, working four strong innings. He allowed three hits and no runs.
"I had good control today," said the young lefthander. "I felt like I knew where the plate was. Against Toronto on Saturday, I couldn't get the ball over the plate."
"He's still experiencing a little stiffness," said Green, "but we expect that because of the injury (broken arm) he had last year."
Green could hardly contain himself about the way Schmidt has been swinging the bat in the early stages of the Grapefruit League.
"I'd like to be able to box that stroke and sell it," he said., "I would make a fortune. And what about the way the Bull is swinging the bat? He has that nice, quick, short stroke down. I would be willing to bet anything you want that he is going.to come back and have a fine year."
EXTRA POINTS - John Vukovich, an infielder, caught the last few innings... Green, who seems intent on carrying just two catchers on the 25-player roster, is hoping that Vukovich will be able to give him an inning or two behind the plate in an emergency... Pete Rose had a single and a double... Most of the regulars were excused after the fifth inning... The Cubs are talking to the Phils about the possibility of trading reliever Bruce Sutter for Garry Maddox... That probably won't play because Sutter is already earning $700,000 on the contract he won this year through arbitration and certainly will demand a long-term agreement for more than that, probably about what Maddox is asking.... A wire-service report the other day had San Diego sending a scout to this camp to look over Maddox and lay the ground work for a deal that might involve Dave Winfield... When confronted with this, Phils' owner Ruly Carpenter merely smiled and shook his head... Yesterday was broadcaster Rich Asbburn's 53rd birthday... Mark "The Bird" Fidrvch will start against Larry Christenson today in Lakeland.