Reading Eagle - March 21, 1980

Phils Tag Bird; Christenson Hurt


By Associated Press


In 1976 they were two of the top pitchers in the American League. In 1980, after three years of arm miseries, the futures of Mark Fidrych and Wayne Garland are very much in doubt.


Fidrych, “The Bird” of Detroit, became the talk of baseball four years ago. He posted a 19-9 record and led the American League with a 2.34 earned run average and 24 complete games while winning Rookie of the Year honors.


The last three years, though, have produced only an 8-8 record and numerous trips to the disabled list with a sore arm and tender shoulder. On Thursday, Fidrych was tagged for five runs in the Tigers’ 10-4 exhibition loss to the Philadelphia Phillies before leaving after 2-1/3 innings with a new pain in his right arm.


Garland, who signed a lucrative free-agent with Cleveland after logging the best record among AL starters in ’76 by going 20-7 for Baltimore, shows a 19-32 mark since joining the Indians and underwent rotator cuff surgery two years ago.


On Thursday, he was rocked for four runs in five innings as the Indians bowed to the San Diego Padres 5-2. And even though he says he has felt no pain this spring, Manager Dave Garcia has not yet assured him of a spot on the club’s pitching staff.


Fidrych also had a ray of hope. He said Thursday’s stiffness was not related to his previous problems.


“When I started out I could feel it,” Fidrych said. “It was just stiff and it kept getting stiffer. It had nothing to do with the previous injury. I’ve never had anything like this. It’s sort of a pain in the thrust muscle under my right arm. That’s the best way I can describe it. It’s painful.”


Manager Sparky Anderson also was up in the air.


“I don’t honestly know what to tell you about the Bird, either,” he said. “We can only wait and hope. Maybe it’s just some minor thing and he’ll be able to pitch in five days. We’ll just have to wait and see.”


The Phillies also got a scare when pitcher Larry Christenson, who suffered three disabling injuries last year, had to be carried off on a stretcher in the third inning after a line drive off the bat of Jason Thompson caught him behind the right knee. However, X-rays showed only a bad bruise and Christenson joined the team.


Garland’s effort against San Diego included a two-run single by the Padres’ Dave Winfield.


“I really felt strong today,” Garland insisted. “I’m not worried about losing. As long as I get my work in, throw 70 or 75 pitches without hurting, I’m satisfied.


Garcia has said that Bob Owchinko, John Denny, Rick Waits, Len Barker, Victor Cruz, Dan Spillner and Sid Monge are assured jobs on the pitching staff. “At the present time,” he added, “Garland is in the category of one of five or six pitchers fighting for jobs.


Elsewhere, Ken Henderson drove in six runs with a grand slam homer and a double as the Chicago Cubs outslugged the Milwaukee Brewers 10-8. Larry Herndon hit two homers and a double to lead the San Francisco Giants over the Oakland A’s 8-2.


Consecutive home runs by Al Oliver and Buddy Bell keyed a six-run fifth inning that powered the Texas Rangers past the Baltimore Orioles 11-6. Steve Braun drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth to give the Kansas City Royal a 12-11 decision over the Pittsburgh Pirates, who wasted a nine-run fourth inning.


Dave Bergman led a 12-hit attack with two doubles and a single as the Houston Astros edged the Cincinnati Reds 6-5 and broke a five-game losing streak. Wayne Nordhagen rapped out two doubles and a single to help the Chicago White Sox nip the Boston Red Sox 3-2.


Brian Asselstine homered and triples as the Atlanta Braves trimmed the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 and run-scoring hits by Jerry Narron and Jim Anderson in the bottom of the ninth gave the Seattle Mariners a 6-5 triumph over the California Angels.


Keith Hernandez walked, stole second and scored the go-ahead run on an error in the eighth inning as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Montreal Expos 3-1 and Lloyd Moseby’s three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th lifted the Toronto Blue Jays over the New York Mets 4-2.