Camden Courier-Post - March 22, 1980
Phils’ fans must pick either hope, reality
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
SARASOTA, Fla. – Even though time has been at work healing the aches and pains of a season best forgotten, the Phillies remain baseball's biggest question mark.
To the optimist, they appear to be ready to once again claim their stature as a contending team that will demonstrate new resolve and leadership in their quest to reclaim the Eastern Division crown.
But, to the pessimist, they remain a star-studded collection of starting players backed up by a pitching staff that needs too many things to go right before it can begin to approach championship form.
If Manager Dallas Green found a magic lantern tomorrow and received three wishes, he'd have to ask for three ' more lanterns delivered to pitching coach Herm Starrette.
Don't misunderstand. There have been a number of positive things happen to the cast of Philly hurlers since they reached the sunny South.
Lefthander Steve Carlton has shown he is ready, willing and able to crank up yet another year of dominance. Dick Ruthven, Larry Christenson and Randy Lerch have thus far demonstrated their ability to put their injury problems behind them.
The zip is back in reliever Tug McGraw's interviews as well as mound offerings. Plus, newcomer Lerrin LaGrow has brought new hope to the Philly bullpen.
However, while all these good vibrations were going down yesterday, righthander Nino Espinosa was still getting heat treatment on his sore arm, reliever Warren Brusstar wasn't about to guess when he'd be ready to confront ' game conditions, Jim Wright continued to walk the comeback tightrope, Dickie Notes was not exactly winning any popularity contests with the brass, Rawly Eastwick remained at work on his new pitch, Marty Bystrom had yet to materialize, and wait another week before asking about Ron Reed or Doug Bird.
Separating hope from reality is no easy matter for anyone connected with the Phillies this spring.
Can a team hope for too much? Is it unfair to ask fate to smile on a shopping list of high expectations that is long as your arm?
Brusstar is a perfect example of what each new dawn brings the Phillies.
They know that if the sinkerball specialist can shake the nagging pain in his shoulder, he will again become one of the most effective and least-celebrated relievers in the National League.
Teamed with LaGrow to take the workload off McGraw and Reed, the Philly bullpen would rapidly turn from a disaster area into a dreamland.
But, after a year of struggling and unanswered questions, Brusstar still finds himself perched precariously between the rainbow's jackpot and a career that could have been.
A few days ago, it looked like he was about to slip back into a world where he couldn't roll over in bed without bolts of pain hitting his shoulder.
Yet, the expertise of trainer Don Seger and his magical thumbs has massaged the doom from Brusstar's aching shoulder muscles, and hope is rekindled.
If the dream came true, Brusstar will eventually pitch his way past the pain. And... what else?
Ruthven and Christenson will peak. Randy Lerch will finally harness his 97 mph fastball. Espinosa will benefit from the extra rest and burn up the league in the first two months of the season.
Rookie Bystrom, who was expected to be the dark horse surprise this spring, will overcome the muscle pull in his leg that has made him little more than a ghost.
Eastwick will gain total mastery over his split-fingered fast ball and dazzle the hitters the way he did for three innings in Dunedin against Toronto yesterday.
Noles will shed the extra weight he carried into camp and begin exhibiting the continuity of delivery that made him last year's hotshot.
Ah, how sweet it would be if righthander Wright took a refresher course at Oklahoma City and came thundering into Vet Stadium during the summer.
And Tug, Ron and Kevin Saucier each being used just enough and at the right time by a manager whose trump card may turn out to be his handling of the pitching staff.
Do you wish upon a star, Phillies fans? If you do, don't pick one. Wish on the Milky Way.
Phils continue to hit ball hard
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
SARASOTA, Fla. – The Phillies continued to push their team batting average toward the .300 mark yesterday with yet another offensive White Sox, 11-7.
Keith Moreland's home run highlighted a four-run outburst in the fourth inning arid then the Phils jumped on former teammate Ed Farmer for the five runs that decided the affair in the eighth.
"The nice part of it is that a lot of the offense is coming from guys we could have in reserve this season," said Manager Dallas Green.
Outfielder Mike Anderson, for example, drove in a pair of runs in the eighth. Luis Aguayo and Moreland accounted for one run apiece in the fourth.
Moreland has' been the batting terror the Phils hoped he'd be this season. The Texan, who will back up starter Bob Boone, is hitting well over .400 and now has two homers to his credit.
Harold Baines homered for the losers as Philly reliever Kevin Saucier picked up the Phils' sixth victory this spring against two losses.
The Phils' B squad defeat in Dunedin at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-5, was taken with a grin, since a shortage of pitchers forced the Phils to use Reading coach Jesus Hernaiz in the 11th inning.
Hernaiz served up a two-run homer to Toronto's J. J. Cannon. The Phils were winning 5-4 at the time.
This game held some significance because Philly reliever Rawly Eastwick demonstrated a mastery and consistency with his new split-fingered fast ball.
The Haddonfield flash dazzled the Blue Jays for three innings, checking them on one hit and striking out four of the 10 batters he faced.
"I was getting it over and keeping it down," said a delighted Eastwick.
John Mayberry opened this affair with a two-run homer in the first inning. The Phils took a 3-2 lead in the fifth, with a double by Orlando Isales highlighting the rally.
Philly reliever Doug Bird balked in the tying run in the Toronto fifth, but Lonnie Smith's single put the Phils in front in the seventh.
Bird was touched for the tying run again in the Blue Jays' seventh, and that's where things stood until the Philly 11th, when Greg Gross walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on George Vukovich's double to left-center.
Today, the Phils host the Houston Astros in Clearwater. Steve Carlton will go against Joe Niekro. The Garry Maddox contract talks are warming up again, but they're only lukewarm.