Camden Courier-Post - March 29, 1980
Green allows Lerch to learn hard way
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Sometimes, the best lessons are the ones you learn yourself. Especially when it hurts.
That's why Phillies' Manager Dallas Green has been giving lefthander Randy Lerch both the time and freedom to discover what might make his mound work more efficient this season.
It has taken some patience. For, at the moment, the two men have distinct and varied opinions about the way Lerch should approach opposing batters.
A former Phillies pitcher himself, Green believes that, since the lefthander has one of the hottest fast balls in the National League, he should be attempting to find ways of making it more effective.
"He throws two good ones and then one bad one," said the manager. "I think he can win with the fast ball if he becomes more consistent with it."
Lerch, whose heater was clocked as high as 97 mph two years ago, doesn't want to be (as he sees it) a one-dimensional pitcher. During the three years in the major leagues, the 24-year-old Californian has seen first-hand how devastating a pitcher can be if he has the ability to keep hitters off balance by coming in with a pitch that looks like a fast ball, but turns into a slider. Especially if he can throw both pitches for strikes.
Since spring training is a time for experimentation as well as self-improvement, Lerch considered this an ideal period for just that. After all, he had a fast ball already.
So, what you end up with is a situation is which neither is clearly right or wrong. At least, not for the moment. That may change, however, as opening day draws near.
Because Lerch has been getting in solid physical shape and has demonstrated that, he has put his fractured right wrist behind him, Green has pretty much looked the other way during some of Randy's less-than-impressive outings down here.
The 6-3, 190-pounder lugged a weighty 8.18 earned run average (it should be half that) into Jack Russell Stadium yesterday and was knocked around by the White Sox for six innings, Chicago collecting 11 hits and six runs before he departed.
Once again, Green checked his emotions at the clubhouse door, saying, "He had three good innings and three bad innings. The three bad ones killed us."
But, he quickly added, "I also saw some positive things. He'll be all right. He had a good fast ball at times and a good breaking ball. I like the way he tried some things."
More than likely, there were times when Lerch tried too hard and too much. At least, that's the feeling.one got when Green pointed to Randy's relative inexperience in preparing for a season, saying, "He still has to learn to stay within himself.
"He's not that experienced in knowing what he wants to accomplish on a given day."
One thing Green wanted to accomplish concerned a subject he has been preaching to his pitchers ever since be got the manager's job.
"If a pitcher has a 2-2 count on the batter and doesn't get his breaking ball over on the next pitch for a strike, what's he going to throw next?
"Everyone in the ballpark knows what he's going to throw with a 3-2 count."
The fast ball. And, according to Green, if the hitter knows it's coming, chances are the pitcher is going to get hurt. Better to throw the fast ball with the count at 2-2, because the hitter is still in a defensive position mentally.
There are, of, course, pitchers who have mind-boggling sliders and aren't afraid to throw them in any situation. Steve Carlton is one of the best.
To imply that Lerch is preoccupied with trying to be like Carlton is to invite a hard look from Green. "I'm sure everyone would like to throw a slider like Steve," he says.
"But, Lerch is not going to be a breaking-ball pitcher like Lefty. I know Randy has it in his mind that he needs to get the breaking ball over to be successful.
"I think differently. But, I'm letting " him find out for himself... for now. I don't necessarily have to step on his butt just because you say I should."
And, he's right... for now.
Green will use Moreland’s bat
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies dropped a 6-5 decision to the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday, but a far more important decision was in the making.
In what amounts to a drastic departure from the type of strategy used by Danny Ozark during the past seven years, Manager Dallas Green "insisted he won't be "saving" his backup catcher until the final innings of a ballgame.
Ozark was always fearful of finding himself without defense behind the plate in extra-inning-games. Green believes it's like being over-insured.
The reason for the change is simple. His name is Keith Moreland. And, his three hits yesterday hiked his batting average over the .350 mark, convincing Green that the youngster's bat could be used to early advantage.
"If I come up against a spot where he (Moreland) can drive in some runs early in a game, I'm going to use him (as a pinchhitter)," said the manager. "I won't wait until the ninth inning to get him up."
This doesn't mean that Green plans to pull starting catcher Bob Boone out of action in the early going. He would be reluctant to do that, because Moreland still needs defensive seasoning.
What it does mean is that Green won't be as reluctant to use Moreland to bat for the pitcher earlier (Pittsburgh and Baltimore style) and rely more heavily on the daily use of more Philly hurlers.
In the early months of the season, starters won't be going long anyway. Plus, with people like Greg Gross. Lonnie Smith, Luis Aguayo and Del Unser on the bench, Green can now afford to go for an early knockout if, for example, the Phillies caught an opposing southpaw in an early bases-loaded jam.
"Moreland sure fits the bill as our No. 2," said Green, who was also pleased with the way the Phils battled back yesterday for the six innings of problems the White Sox gave Randy Lerch.
Both Otto Velez and Roy Howell drove in runs in the first inning and then added three more off Lerch in the third on hits by Al Wood, Barry Bonnell, Howell and Damaso Garcia.
The Phils scored a second-inning run as Gross doubled, Moreland singled and Manny Trillo grounded out. But, by the time Woods singled in the fourth, moved to third on Mike Schmidt's error and scored on Howell's single, the visitors led 6-1.
"We didn't battle back a whole lot last season, but we did today," said Green.
A single by Moreland and Larry Bowa's triple into the center field gap trimmed the Chicago lead in the fifth, as did Bake McBride's double and Greg Luzinski's single in the sixth. Smith singled in the eighth and scored on a triple by McBride. Gross' sacrifice fly scored Bake to make it 6-5.
The Phils had a tying run at second base in the ninth, but Chicago reliever Jerry Gavin gloved McBrifie's hot grounder and threw to first to end the game.
NOTES: Contract negotiations between the Phils and Garry Maddox continue, with no significant movement reported... Rumor has it the Mets offered catcher John Steams and second baseman Doug Flynn for Cincy outfielder Ken Griffey... The ailing Warren Brusstar will seek a fourth medical opinion in Oklahoma City... Nino Espinosa has been told to rest his arm for another week... Second baseman Trillo still hasn't found his batting stroke... The Phils may cut four players before leaving Monday for Florida's East Coast... Players who won't make that three-game trip include Larry Christenson, Brusstar, Espinosa, Bud Harrelson, Dick Ruthven and Bob Boone. The latter is part of the Players Association negotiating team. Larry Bowa will play one game and return... Today's game at Jack Russell Stadium will feature Luis Tiant of the Yankees vs Dickie Noles.