The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on August 8, 1993 · Page 63
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 63

Indianapolis, Indiana
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 8, 1993
Page 63
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THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR SUNDAY, AUGUST 8, 1993 t E5 i .Reds got Johnny Ruffin is already opening some eyes during stint with Indianapolis Indians. The Chicago White Sox must be awfully certain that Tim Belcher is the missing piece that will j -1 soive me Ameri-V-. ' 7 can League West Division puzzle because they have given up a tremendous talent to get him. At least that Pro Baseball Dave Garlick seems to be the case after Johnny Ruffin's first two outings with the Indianapolis Indians. , . There is a lot to like about the right-handed pitcher, who is Just 22 years old but has four years of ; professional baseball experience. Ruffin has a great arm with a fastball In the 90s, a slider that is ; almost as quick with a nasty little ; break at the end, a good curve and good control. "What does he have to do to get " to the big leagues?" asked Indianapolis Indians' pitching coach Mike Griffin. "Exactly what he is ; doing now. Actually, I would love to see him establish a little better changeup. But he doesn't really ' need too much. He's not far away." ' v Anyone who saw Ruffin In his two Indianapolis appearances last week had to leave Bush Stadium thinking that Cincinnati General !', Toronto first baseman, John Olerud, is having the greatest season of his I young career. In three previous seasons with the Jays, he has failed to hit above .284. The last player to hit the magic ,400 mark was Ted Williams who batted .406 in 1941 . George Brett of the Royals came the closest, : batting .390 in 1980. .350 1.300 .250 s "April May May June June July July Aug. Aug. Sept. Sept Final '.30 15 31- 15 30 15 31 15 31 15 30 avg. j IN GOOD COMPANY f ( For the first time since Ted Williams, in 1941, has a player entered the month of ; i August batting .400 or better, , , , . p . Average entering Final I,' Year Player, Team month of August average V 1941 Ted Williams, Red Sox , 1 993 John Olerud, Blue Jays ' THE EXCLUSIVE .400 CLUB There have been only 13 players to finish a season with a batting average of .400 or more since the beginning of the century. .424 Rogers Hornsby, Cards 1924 .422 Nap Lajoie, Athletics 1901 .420 Tv Cobb. 77oera " 1911 ,420 Qeorqe Slsier, Browns 1 922 ,410 Ty Cobb, Tigers 1912 :406 Joe Jackson, Clev.Naps 1911 ,407 George Sisler, Browns 1920 t 406 Ted Williams, Red Sox 1941 1 .403 Harry Hellmann, Tigers 1923 '.403 Rogers Hornsby, Cards 1925 MOl'Ty Cobb, Tigers 1922 ji .401 Rogers Hornsby, Cards 1922 p.401 Bill Terry, N.Y.Gtants 1930 OLERUD Continued from Page 1 !: All this started In spring training, when Olerud led all major leaguers with a .433 batting average. He's been hitting ever since, piecing together a 26-game streak, longest In the majors this season. Olerud tries to win the mental battle that hitting .400 entails. "You've got to be aggressive and carefree," he said. "If you're tentative, chances are you'll make an out." ' Olerud, who celebrated his 25th birthday Thursday, went into August with career bests of 20 home runs, 84 runs batted in, 145 hits and 42 doubles. That's a season's work for a lot of hitters, achieved In four months, not six. As one hitter to another, Brett admires Olerud's mechanics and thinks they can make a difference In this run at .400. "He hits the ball to all fields 3 J fit- II f H-A 1 1 M a real gem in Belcher trade Manager Jim Bowden made his best trade since landing the job. Last Sunday, Ruffin came into a game against Nashville the team he played for until being traded July 30 with men on first and third and one out in the eighth inning with the Tribe trailing 2-1 and fanned Ron Coomer and got Clemente Alvarez to pop out. When the Tribe came back to take the lead In the bottom of the eighth, Ruffin easily put the Sounds away In the ninth. Then Wednesday against Buffalo, he retired nine of the 10 men he facaed in posting his first Indianapolis save. The only hit was a swinging bunt. "We knew he had a great arm. We saw that when he pitched against us for Nashville," said Tribe manager Marc Bombard. "But I love his makeup. He seems to have fun, but when It's time, he is all business. "He's a great competitor. I loved It when he was traded to us last Saturday. He Just switched clubhouses, got dressed and went right out and hit with our pitchers." When he pitched against Nashville, Ruffin had gotten up early, flown to Nashville to clean out his apartment and get clothes and his car. He then drove back to Indy and arrived during the game. Then he went out and earned the victory. Ruffin was happy with the trade that brought him to the Cincinnati organization. "Chicago was in a pennant race, so they weren't going to be John Olerud George Brett Ted Williams 1993 1980 1941 .410 .406 .402 . ??? rSSk The season 1 of his life t ' mIl ,394 is- s. i v. r& si i a J I A If 1993 Career-, Associated Press and he doesn't overswing," Brett said. "He's got a tremendous eye and discipline at the plate. Very, very seldom will he swing at a ball outside the strike zone. He hits the ball just as hard to left as he does to right. If you throw him consistently away, he'll Just take what you give him. He's not going to get greedy and start trying to pull those balls. He'll keep on hitting doubles down the left field line or line drives to left and be content with that. In that lineup, that's all he's got to do." Is .400 really achievable, by Olerud or anyone? Brett batted .429 after the Ail-Star break, .467 during his 30-game hitting streak from July 18-Aug. 18, and he still didn't make It, finishing five hits away, less than a hit per month from April to September. "I came so close, and I think there are a lot better ballplayers than I was," he said. "If I can come five hits from doing It, someone's going to do It some day." I "rxiktat Coppinjlnc. IMMD ffl Art Johnson, crs When you Talk to Tucker.. . . . Talk to Art at 897-3300. EC. Hicker Company, Inc Realtors Since 1918 tt "He's a great competitor. I loved it when he was traded to us last Saturday. He just switched clubhouses, got dressed and went right out and hit with our pitchers." Marc Bombard Indians manager using young players this year. The trade should help me get to the big leagues quicker," said Ruffin. "Hopefully I can do the Job here and get a look." Ruffin was only 16 when he was graduated from Choctaw High School in Butler, Ala., before the June 1988 free agent draft. ' Since he was so young, he was overlooked by most colleges and big league organizations. But the Chlsox took him in the fourth round. He went 4-2 In the Gulf Coast Rookie League that year. In 1989, at Utica, N.Y., Ruffin finished with a 4-8 mark and 3.36 earned run average. He spent 1990 at South Bend, going 7-6 with a 4.17 earned run average. He had his best season in 1991 with a 11-4 mark for Sarasota in the Florida State League with a 3.23 earned run average. He slumped to 0-7 at Double A Birmingham to start last year but finished badly back at Sarasota, going 3-7. But he pitched well enough in spring training to make the Jump LOOK FOR OUR AirmtWww I ' VALVOLINE MSfSTOR SPARK PLUGS j1 : (ExcaptNGK Specialty Plugs) PLUGS LIMIT 16. 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MUNCH, 3000 N. Broadway . . . .643-0041 31 South Shopping Canlar 3806 Madlaon Avwiua . . . . 8335 U.S. 31 Soulh ORIENWOOO, 205 31 Road 135 Sooth MSI GROVE, tm S Emtnon Am. f RAN KLIN. Northwood Plaza . . . 4M-7171 , a.oo3i . 28a-i6r KIARTINV1LLI, MarttnivW Plan DLOOMINQTON, 322 CollogoMall Road COLUMUS, Plckway Plaza to Nashville and was 4-4 with a 3.21 earned run average for the Sounds when he was traded. The difference might have been his move to the bullpen. Before 1993, Ruffin had been used as a starter. "Sometimes a'young pitcher can get his feet on the ground In the bullpen," said Griffin. "He can come Into a game down a run or two, and be more relaxed because no matter what he does, It might not affect the outcome of a game. "Then with some success, a pitcher's confidence grows." The Reds plan to have Bombard use him in a setup role for closer Scott Ruskin. From time to time, he will get a shot at closing In the last month. "I like the bullpen." said Ruffin. "It gives me a chance to get in every day." With the way he has started for the Tribe, look for him to get plenty of work down the stretch. He got a callup to Cincinnati Saturday. With Belcher becoming a free agent after this season, there was no guarantee he was coming back to the Reds anyway. So getting a talent like Ruffin and Jeff Pierce (who is at Double A Chattanooga) the Reds made a great deal for Belcher. Like the trade in 1991 that sent Larry Andersen to the Red Sox from Houston for Jeff Bagwell, this could be a stretch-run deal that helps the rebuilding team for a long time. - - - - l -Oi tt-,. a . a AUTO SERVICE SPECIALS! 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