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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan • Page 35
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan • Page 35

Detroit, Michigan
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Sunday, May 2, 1999 The Detroit News 5D Notebook Baseball 1 -jP7 -J Media didn't promote Kapler to majors Tigers: Notebook Parrish is angry over Moehler's ejection LYNN KENNING 0 had just taught his Tigers a lesson or two. The Orioles were a privilege to watch play. Now look at them. They are terrible. The whole organization is confused and misdirected, the team losing three times for every game it wins, the $84-million payroll about twice what the Tigers have and five times what a club such as Minnesota carries.

A few of the reasons why an organization that defined American League baseball from the 1960s deep into the '80s became slipshod: Ex-owner Edward Bennett Williams got into free-agent spending and neglected the Orioles' once-rich farm system. Eddie Murray was a product of that system. So was Ripken. So, before them, were Jim Palmer, Paul Blair, Bobby Grich, Al Bumbry and Doug DeCinces. Ripken was the last big position player developed by the Orioles.

On the pitching side, only Mike Mussina, Ben McDonald and Gregg Olson have hit it big in recent years, with McDonald and Olson flaming out because of arm problems. Bad front-office decisions and indecisions. Manager Davey Johnson personally delivered Baltimore to the playoffs in 1996 and '97, then ran afoul of current owner Peter Angelos because Johnson is a lot like Angelos: tough, smart and single-minded. Johnson lost. Nice, polite, pliable Ray Miller is now the Orioles skipper for now, anyway.

Moehler Parrish movement on Moehler's pitches was Jose Canseco. "Oh, he's a carpenter now," Canseco said about Moehler. "I might just have to go and cork my bat. "I noticed it looked like he was grinding his thumb into the ball. His pitches were moving a whole lot, I know that." Moehler said the substance on his thumb was dirt: "I don't know if other guys do it or not, but I was rubbing the ball like I always do.

My thumb gets dirty when I do that, but the ump said he saw something." More than that. The ump said he's certain he saw something. And that's what he'll tell Dr. Budig. Morris returns The fire no longer burns within.

At long last Jack Morris has mellowed. Or at least says he has. Morris filled in for Kirk Gibson as color analyst on Fox Sports Detroit Saturday night. It's the closest contact he's had with Major League Baseball since 1994, his final season. "I don't know if this is a start or what it is," he said.

"But, sure, I'd like to get back in it. The Twins have already talked to me about a pitching job." Morris wasn't always the easiest of the athletes to deal with. I le knows that. As a pitcher for the Tigers from 1977-90, then for the Twins and Blue Jays after that, he was outstanding. As a person, though, he could be a tad cranky.

"I had a hard time separating myself as a player from myself as a person," he said. "If I was criticized as a player, I took it as personal criticism. As if people didn't like me." He didn't realize he was wrong until after his playing days. "A lot of people change when they get older," he said. "It's true that you get wiser." Around the horn Not only did Moehler get ejected from the game, he lost it and fell to 3-3.

With one out in the seventh, he gave up consecutive singles, but then Sean Runyan walked Kevin Stocker and gave up a sacrifice fly to Randy Winn that proved to be the difference. Once again, the offense disappeared. The Tigers had four hits, all singles, and went hitless after the fourth. If By Tom Gage The Detroit News ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.

Are the Tigers going to lose Brian Moehler to a 10-game suspension? "It's not my decision," umpire Larry Barnett said Saturday night after the Tigers lost 4-3 to the Devil Rays, a game in which Moehler was ejected for allegedly having sandpaper on his left thumb. "I'll call (American League President Gene) Budig and bother him at home, and then we'll file the report." Disputes with Barnett are nothing new for the Tigers. Two years ago, he infuriated them for angrily defending the generous strike zone of rookie umpire Mike Everett. Last year, there was a fly ball to right-center that Barnett called a home run because he said he heard it hit a sign, even though Bobby Higginson caught the ball. Now this.

Barnett said he saw a scuffed ball in the sixth inning. But he didn't go to the mound until the seventh when Devil Rays Manager Larry Rothschild asked him to check Moehler. It was the complaint that irked Tigers Manager Larry Parrish. "To me, it's something that goes Parrish said. "All the years I've been in the majors, that's been a part of baseball.

There's not a pitching staff that doesn't have a guy who defaces the ball, including guys like Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan. Guys who throw like that. "Their starting pitcher did it tonight," Parrish said. "Bobby Witt is throwing a pretty good cutter that he didn't use to have." But even now Parrish said he won't return the favor and complain about Devil Rays pitchers. Said Rothschild about the incident "It was a case of the players noticing it more than anything else.

I can't see that much from where I am. "It's not the first time, and it won't be the last. I know the rules, and I don't necessarily blame (Moehler)." One of the players who noticed the A worked-up reader called last week wondering what it was the media had with Gabe Kapler. And, by extension, what they had against Brian Hunter. As defensive and dismissive as you want to get about something like this, the caller asked a fair question.

Kapler, the Tigers' rookie center fielder, has gotten heavy ink for a 23-year-old kid with a few weeks of big-league experience. In the process Hunter, who was shipped to Seattle last week for two minor leaguers to be named, was all but left for dead coming out of spring training. The media did little more than chronicle the organization's position on both players evaluations that were based purely on skill levels as opposed to any racial or ethnic considerations, which is what the caller was insinuating might be the case. Hunter was establishing himself more as a hitter with no power and, worse, limited ability to get on base. I lis great speed and potential for generating runs was withering at the plate.

An up-the-middle infielder can get away with numbers like Hunter had been rolling up during the past year. An outfielder, whose bat is going to be 70 percent of the reason he starts, has different obligations at the plate. I le must either score scads of runs and spark an offense, or loom as a power-hitter and RBI man who also carries a high-octane batting average. Even at this stage, Kapler has been demonstrating he has the crunch you're looking for in a big-league outfielder's bat. Various front-office people outside Detroit were astonished when the Tigers didn't hand him the starting job coming out of Florida.

Kapler has skills and strengths that don't fool scouts. Projections across the board are amazingly consistent there. He is expected to be a star. He was looked at as largely wasting his time playing at Triple A. He will go through bumps, for sure, as a rookie.

But in weighing his potential against Hunter's, the Tigers, rightly it seems, went with Kapler. Hunter's conduct throughout the mini-soap opera in which he and Kapler starred was another matter. Here was an established big-leaguer of pride and past achievement who during the past month in Detroit had to endure some demeaning days. He knew the club was offering him -ft Largely because Angelos is an attorney and businessman with many things going at once, the Orioles dillydallied on assistant general manager Kevin Malone and last fall watched the Dodgers make Malone their new GM. Baltimore settled for Frank Wren.

The same kind of dawdling and refusal by Angelos to delegate authority forced big-hitting first baseman Rafael Palmeiro who was all but begging to stay in Baltimore to take $5 million less and sign with Texas. Palmeiro simply grew sick of waiting for the Orioles to make a commitment. Interestingly, for a team that is second only to the Yankees in paying salaries, it isn't as if the Orioles have done a lot of stupid free-agent spending. "No one on the team is among the top 30 or 40 bonehead signings," said Thomas Boswell, the Washington Post columnist who has covered the team for years. "The big mistake is that everybody on the team is making millions.

They don't have four or five players from the farm that they're getting on the cheap." Finding four or five players who've worked in Baltimore's bushes is the trick these days. It's also the obvious way a once-great organization can get it all back. In that sense, one only hopes that in addition to having lots of money, Angelos has even more patience. Lynn Henning can be reached at (313) 222-2472. FREE Roadside Assistance 2 Minute Application everywhere.

He understood that Tigers Manager Larry Parrish wanted Kapler in the lineup and Hunter out of it. His response: Unfailing courtesy and dignity. Not a single bad word, not a solitary burned bridge. Statistical assessments of Hunter say one thing. His personal conduct throughout his time in Detroit said something much more complete about Brian Hunter.

How the O's got so bad Once upon a time, Baltimore coming to town was one of those baseball treats as educational as it was entertaining. Ken Singleton would get two hits, have two more great at-bats that could have been hits had he not worked for the walk, then make a sawy play in the outfield. Cal Ripken Jr. might win a game single-handedly. Eight different pitchers would work a three-game series and, you'd swear, throw nothing but strikes.

"That's the way they play the game, gentlemen," Sparky Anderson would say afterward, smiling at a club that raises Lsyaways Welcome ask P155R-12 P15580R-13 P16580R-13 'Wf-CZf affile P25570R-16 KkrNl I I 1 31-1050R-15 Jf JM I G55T WTSBOR-13 tW I I I VNl 1 P19575R-14 I LmS mMu P155B0R-13 Tl ff P20Sff5fl-15 Wvrri I I I 1 P23575R-15 jf VSwtmH II TIRE IS SHCWN FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES ONLY Sy-ffT) P15580R-13XW4 P23570R-15 XW4 OUR 65,000 MILE WARRANTY I S70 P1955R-14 $71 iK P21565R-15 $82 3 MYU4 PI HQ IflAY'T rkUW mxmmmmnm UX TUB I -y lyy wiHcumauum 1 J-l i 1 AMERICA'S rr F5 nYi) rVBTrLGo P17580R-13 P17570R-13 P20575R-14 P22575R-15 P18580R-13 P18575R-14 P20575R-15 P23575R-15 P19575R-14 P21575R-15 $63 52 M8WKM3 $38 P20570R-14 $46 I iJ IT LT P18S70fi-14 $39 P20560R-15 $46 A P1B560R-14 $41 P22560R-16 $65 Sl $34 P20575R-15 $40 f3 RSI P19575R-14 $56 P20565R-15 $52 jk $38 P21575R-15 $40 I I I i P20575R-15 $58 P21570R-15 $62 I $39 P23575R-15 $41 I P2057QR-15 $60 P23575R-15 $52 45,000 WU WARRANTY KJJf pi85wr-14 6000 MILE WARRANTY $45 3M50R-15 $69 JXTVTT HUNDREDS OF STYLES $60 31-1050R-1S $70 aftl.r AVAILABLE AT FANTASTIC 4Mj PRICES! f5l fbiSI i i TOURING I jfc Jl $51 EiblllS gg wwo zw A'i'l' 1 1 tT I 7f i f.yf-M.. IiUVIm. 33 EAGLE RH fc I "i I I I 0 r1 -1 'J m- 'V. I fsi P175T0R-13 LT23575R-15 P1SMU P20570R-14 $59 ZlVtlZM SKzzS MSIf I PHWOR-14 $60 31-1050R-15 $100 po7nR wi P255770R-15 $70 LT2655R-16ffl $137 P23570R-15 LARQEST INDEPENDENT TIRE CO. FHMAIMClNd AVAIUBLt I SZZZXl.fTSSzr-r--.

sSSi. i i 1 ON APPHOVtQ CRtorr TIGERS VSAN GELS Tuesday May 4 Wednesday May 5 Thursday May 6 svso TIGER RIOLES Friday May 7 Saturday May 8 Sunday May 9 MomsKids Run the Bases postgame, weather permitting TIHE CO. INC.r I i about our "Fre Replacement" certificate OVER 400 STORES NATIONWIDE! E. ANN ARBOR, 3451 WASHTENAW 971-3400 W. ANN ARBOR, 2270 WEST STADIUM 769-21 59 CANTON, 41550 FORD RD 981-6800 CENTER LINE, 26805 VAN DYKE (at 696) 754-1850 CLINTON 33633 GRATIOT (Bit.

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