Atlantic City Press - March 26, 1980

Can The ‘Tooth Fairy’ Help Unlucky Larry?


CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) – Remember when you were a child and you lost a tooth? You placed the tooth under your pillow and waited for the “tooth fairy” to leave you a monetary reward. 


Pitcher Larry Christenson of the Philadelphia Phillies at age 26 is a little old for that fantasy of youth, but he did something similar with a spur removed from his shoulder. 


“It looks like a shark's tooth about three quarters of an inch long and about half an inch wide,” said Christenson as he recalled this uncomfortable period of his life. 


"I was thinking of having something made out of it,” Christenson related at the Phillies’ spring training camp. 


It wasn’t that the 6-foot-3 Christenson was a masochist. The spur reminded him of adversity.


Christenson, a 213-pound right-hander, should be used to adversity. He has a chronic back condition that on occasion puts him out of business. Last year he joined a charity bicycle marathon, fell off his bike and broke his collarbone in six places. The spur developed from the collarbone injury. He appeared in just 19 games, posted a 5-10 record with a 4.50 ERA. 


Actually, Christenson didn't make his first start until May 12. He was back on the disabled list July 3, and underwent surgery on Aug. 17. It was a season best forgotten. 


“Everybody knows now that it was a must operation… I was in pain when I was throwing all last year. I had a spur in my collarbone that went into my shoulder blade… It got worse and worse. That spur kept growing longer and longer. 


“Maybe by this year if I let it go, it might have protruded through my shoulder right now. They just went in with a hammer and chisel and chiseled it out. It had to be done. I couldn’t sleep on my right side. I couldn’t do anything with that shoulder. I needed that movement,” Christenson said. 


So much for the past. How has Christenson felt lately? He’s being counted upon as a starter. The Phillies need 15 victories or more from the pitcher if they hope to regain the National League East title from Pittsburgh. 


“I feel great,” said Christenson. 


Yeah but everybody feels great in sunny Florida in March. Everybody is a .300 hitter, a 20-game winner, a champion. Rose colored glasses abound as much as oranges. 


Christenson insists his optimism has basis for fact, and is not based on hope or self brainwashing. 


“When I came down here and started throwing like the third of February, I had some stiffness in my shoulder and elbow which everybody goes through. But it just cleared right out and my arm is getting real strong, I don’t think I'll have any problem.” 


But in a recent spring training contest, Christenson was struck by a line drive, bruising the inside of a knee. The club trainer said it was not serious. 


Christenson, however, does admit he has had some problem with slight hamstring muscle pulls, because he has changed his physical conditioning program to include running for the first time in three years. The Phillies always have kept him from running because of his back problem. 


New manager Dallas Green said he instituted the running program for Christenson. 


“He and I have talked about where he (Christenson) is in his career, and I told him flat out that the program he was under the last few years in my opinion was not going to get it,” Green said.

Rose Leads Phils Past Orioles


CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Pete Rose collected three hits, scoring twice and driving in three runs, as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 Tuesday in a major league exhibition game. 


Rose, who raised his spring average to .384, struck first in the first inning. He held up on second when Greg Luzinski sent a long fly over center fielder Al Bumbry’s head. 


The ball hit the center field wall for a double but Rose got a late start and almost was thrown out at home. Catcher Floyd Rayford caught the relay throw but was run over by Rose. As the ball rolled away, Bake McBride also scored and the Phillies overcame a deficit caused by Ken Singleton's two-run homer. 


In the second, the Phillies took the lead when Rose singled in Larry Bowa from third with two outs. Philadelphia put the game away with two more runs in the seventh one coming on a Rose single. 


Rawly Eastwick gave up only three hits in three scoreless relief innings for the Phillies, who are 8-4 in exhibition play. 


Lerrin LaGrow followed Eastwick and held the Orioles scoreless for two innings. The American League champs now are 7-7.

Owners Sticking to Proposal


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Major league baseball executives, meeting privately Tuesday, appeared willing to stick to their current proposals for a basic agreement with players despite the growing threat of a players’ strike. 


“I just hope that if they strike, they wait until they go north,” said Hal Middlesworth, former Detroit Tigers’ public relations man now directing publicity for the owners’ negotiator, Ray Grebey. ‘‘That was a real mess in '72 when they went out during the spring.” 


The 1972 regular baseball season was cut short because of the strike. 


“The owners remain just as unified as they always have been,” Grebey said between meetings, adding that no adjustment of the owners’ offer was expected during Tuesday’s sessions. 


Today negotiations are to resume with the players union, headed by Marvin Miller. Tuesday’s meetings were labeled by several baseball spokesmen as “information sessions” to bring league executives up to date on the negotiations, though one executive said, “When you get the clubs together anything can happen.” 


But there was no' indication that any of the day’s meetings would produce a change in the owners position on the issues Miller considers most crucial.


“The crux of it all is the free-agency compensation,” Middlesworth said. “And also, the owners insist the season can open without the signing of an agreement.” 


The owner-proposed change in the free-agent system would improve the compensation a team receives when it loses a free agent. 


As an example: The Cleveland Indians gave up an amateur draft choice to the Chicago White Sox this year in exchange for signing free agent Jorge Orta. Under tie owners proposal the White Sox would have been able to select one of several unprotected players from Cleveland's roster rather than a draft choice.


The owners say this would aid teams that suffer frequent losses of free-agent players. But Miller calls it a regressive move that would end the free-agent system since many teams would be unwilling to sacrifice one of their current players in order to sign a free agent.


Negotiators for owners and players have met nearly 30 times, trying to reach a four-year agreement to replace the one they made in 1976. 


Players on 19 major teams have voted 735-1 to authorize a strike on or after April 1, and Miller is expected to receive similar support from more players training in Arizona when he meets with them this week.