Camden Courier-Post - March 21, 1980

Christenson’s luck always same – bad


By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post


LAKELAND, Fla. – Some guys have all the luck. Only, in the case of Phillies' righthander Larry Christenson, it seems to be all bad.


Another chapter in a career that's beginning to read like the diary of a claim adjuster was added to the Christenson file yesterday when he stopped a line drive with his left knee during a 10-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers here.


Larry, who has taken enough stretcher rides to qualify for a discount rate, was carried off the field and taken to nearby Watson Clinic.


The rest of the team crossed its fingers and held its collective breath, a practice that has become so common it's a wonder someone doesn't rename them the Blue Crosses, Shields and Faces.


The good news is that X-rays proved negative and the injury was declared a severe contusion. The bad news is that he'll be out of action for a week and is now listed by local bookies as an odds-on favorite to topple from his crutches and dislocate his belly button.


L.C. just can't seem to win for losing. He fell off his bicycle during a ride for charity last February and broke his right collar bone.


An accident like that usually costs most guys a week of school. Larry lost a month and a half of a baseball season that Lloyds of London wouldn't touch with a 10-foot policy.


He was back in uniform by mid-May and gone again by the first week of July, victim of a groin pull that left him lots of time to watch the bone spur on his mended collarbone grow with the passing of each frustrating day.


After winning just two games in July and August, Larry waved the white flag and surrendered to September surgery on the bone spur. Naturally, he was on a first-name basis with everyone connected with the operation.


About the only good thing about his summer was the fact that it hadn't been ruined by the back problems that have plagued him since birth.


At 6-4, 213 pounds, L.C. sometimes has to feel like a grand piano made out of porcelain. You play him and he cracks.


Once, he leaped out of the way of an inside fastball and spent the next 21 days on the disabled list trying to figure out a way to tie his shoelaces without waking the neighbors with ( his screams.


"I've learned to live with the back problems. I mean, I was born with that," he said. "But, I'm getting a little weary of this other stuff ."


Larry was pitching to Detroit's Jason Thompson in the third inning during this latest episode. He decided to pitch the Tiger strongman low and away, since Thompson had rifled an inside pitch for a first-inning double.


"I guess the fastball wasn't low enough or away enough," said Larry. "He got me good. An inch the other way, and it (the line drive) would have broken my kneecap.


"Of course," he added. 'If he had hit it at my head, it would have killed me."


It was a frightening scene, to say the least. The fact that a perfect impression of the baseball's seams' marked L.C.’s rapidly-swelling knee didn't help matters. Although, the mood of the team picked up when the word came back that the knee hadn't been fractured.


"I guess that'll knock the hell out of L.C's discoing," said Manager Dallas Green with a smile. "But, that black cloud still seems to be following him around."


Christenson lucked out in a similar situation in Chicago on the Fourth of July during the 1977 season "Dave Kingman drilled me in the same knee," he recalled. "I didn't even miss a turn on the mound."


"It's a pitching hazard," said Green, who got tattooed a few times himself. "I'll bet if you named 100 pitchers, 90 of them have gotten hit like that"


Still, Christenson would like to make it through one year of his life without being one of the statistics compiled by emergency wards and ambulance drivers.


Some folks might have considered L.C. very fortunate yesterday. But then, they're not the ones who are going to limp into the Phils' trainer's room today and listen to the welcome Larry Bowa has prepared.


"I'm not going to tell him today," said Larry with a prankster's grin. "But, when I see him coming I'm going to say, 'Larry, if you hadn't gotten in the way of that ball, I would have gotten to it."

Moreland, Rose spark Phillies


By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post


LAKELAND, Fla. – The Phillies continued to wield one of the most potent attacks in the Grapefruit League yesterday as they hammered the Detroit Tigers, 10-4, with an offensive barrage by Keith Moreland and Pete Rose.


It was more than just a poor day for pitchers. Phils righthander Larry Christenson suffered a bruised left knee when he was struck by a line drive. And, Detroit wonder boy Mark Fidrych ended up leaving the game with arm soreness.


Moreland, who has the kind of bat that's going to be tough to keep on the bench, continued to sizzle as he ripped a single, double and home run. Rose picked up three RBIs with a bases-loaded double.


A shabby-fielding Tiger team fell behind, 4-0, in the second inning as Lonnie Smith walked and promptly stole his fifth base of the spring. Singles by Del Unser and Moreland tallied one run and, after Larry Bowa beat out a bunt to load the bases, Rose unloaded with a two-bagger into left-center field.


Christenson, who gave up two runs in the second inning, was drilled in the third frame when Tiger Jason Thompson rifled a line drive off his left knee.


Taken to nearby Watson Clinic, where X- rays proved negative, Christenson is expected to be sidelined for a week.


As for Fidrych, the Detroit drawing card excused himself in the third and wasn't around to see Moreland's homer in the fourth.


John Poff started the fun in the fifth with a walk. Smith got on through one of four Detroit errors on the day. Unser doubled both men home and then scored himself as Moreland singled and Bowa lofted a sacrifice fly. The Detroit defense donated two more tallies in the sixth.


Carlos Arroyo and Jose Martinez picked up the pitching pieces after Christenson's injury. But the performance of Phils' reliever Lerrin LaGrow in the final two frames was by far the most impressive.


Today the bulk of the Philly squad will travel to Sarasota, where Dick Ruthven will face the Chicago White Sox. Righthander Jim Wright will do the honors for a "B" team heading to Dunedin and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Miller:  Owners’ offer a smokescreen


LAKELAND, Fla. – Marvin Miller, executive director of the major league baseball players' association, says reports earlier this week that the basis for a settlement is in place is a smokescreen by club owners who are trying to provoke a players' strike.


Miller, who was In Lakeland yesterday for a closed-door meeting with the Detroit Tigers, says that after talking to 13 clubs and receiving a telephone vote from another, that the count now is 585-1 in favor of a strike by the players.


Such a strike, if it comes, likely would begin April 1.


At a Tuesday bargaining session between Miller and Ray Grebey, chief negotiator for the owners, the owners withdrew a controversial salary scale proposal to set limits on salaries for the first six years of a player's major league career.


Grebey emerged from that meeting calling the move "significant"


"I don't think it's a concession," Miller said yesterday. 'They (the owners) didn't have a salary structure. They put it in there for this reason; so that when they took it off, they could say 'Now. what are you going to give us for taking this off (the bargaining tablet;


"That's all it was there for in the first place, and everybody's falling for it."


Miller accused the owners of bad faith bargaining.


"They never took the salary structure proposal seriously, and neither did we," Miller said. "I suppose you could say there's been progress. But, to me, it's like the man who has been beating his wife and children for years and, when he stops, he says 'Where is my medal?'


"I suppose it's progress that he stopped, but not very much."


Miller said the owners have been trying to provoke a strike from the very start of negotiations 18 weeks ago.


"What the owners haven't told you is that with all of our problems, they came in (Tuesday) with just two weeks to go to a deadline, and made a brand new proposal to cut the heart out of salary arbitration." Miller said. "To do that, at that point in time – something they just hadn't raised before is such obvious provocation that you only need half a brain to see it"


Three days of negotiations are scheduled between the owners and the players association March 26-28 in Phoenix. The board of directors for the players association will meet with Miller on April 1 and decide whether to call for a walkout, Miller said.


"Sometimes, I'm an optimist," he said. "At the moment, I'm not, but I certainly wouldn't rule it (a settlement) out."