The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 9, 1989 · Page 64
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The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 64

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 9, 1989
Page 64
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rrrr- K . s - s t r v I- v i "1 ' V W The Pittsburgh Press Sunday, July 9, 1989 BASEBALL Distefano searches for fuse to fireworks PIRATES FARtt REPORT 0 D By Dob riertael The Pittsburgh Press Benny Distefano sat silently at his locker, a baseball bat in his hands. He wasn't doing much with the bat, just holding it, which kind of . sums up the way the season has gone 1 for him. " "This has not been my year," he said. - He had just had a chance to play hero, but once again could do no more than hit a popup. His average is .214. He has only four pinch hits. " " "There's a fine line between telling things the way they are and what is picked up as criticism," said Manager Jim Leyland. "This is not a ' criticism of Benny Distefano and we are not where we are because of him, but he is struggling and has not done . a whole lot." ' The Pirates had hoped Distefano : would provide pop off the bench i after he appeared to have matured last year when he was recalled. He i had hit .263 at Buffalo and in 16 games with the Pirates batted .345 with a home run and-six RBI. But he began this season on the f disabled list because of a bruised ; shoulder and never seemed to get untracked. The worse he played, the more tense he became. - Leyland keeps running him in games, but so far there have been no fireworks. He tried again last night in one of the most crucial situations against , Ed Whitson, who was on his way to a ; 2-0 victory for the San Diego Padres. ' The Padres led, 1-0, in the fifth, but Mike LaValliere was at third . base and Rey Quinones at first with one out. With starting pitcher Jeff ; Robinson due up, Leyland made his ,move. LaValliere had opened the inning with a double, but because of his lack Smizilt from page Dl ; Wilson's last home run was May 24. : He has four runs batted in in his past 1 67 at-bats. Because Van Slyke and Bonilla ; are hitting for good averages, the : fifth position is crucial. Wilson isn't : doing the job. Bonds should be given 1 the chance. Why isn't Steve Henderson with ; the Pirates and King in Buffalo? ; King is batting under .200 with no homers and rare opportunities. He ! needs more seasoning. Henderson, 36, is a veteran of more than 1,000 ; major-league games. Going into the weekend, he was hitting .313 - third ' in the American Association with . five homers and 37 RBI with Buffalo. As recently as 1987 he hit .289 . with the Oakland Athletics. He has a 1 lifetime major-league average of .280. He is far more suited to the role ' of pinch hitter and occasional starter than King. Why hasn't Jay Bell or Sammy Khalifa replaced Rafael Belliard on the roster? Since Rey Quinones was acquired : from the Seattle Mariners, Belliard has become a utilityman, a role to . which he is ill-suited. In the 66 games since the Quinones trade, j Belliard started 18 times - 12 at ? shortstop, five at second base and one at third base. That makes 48 I games where he has been because of his limited hitting ability - of I virtually no use to the team. Neither Bell nor Khalifa are the fielder Belliard is. But hitting is a more vital function of a utilityman than fielding. Both have some pop in U n A m 7 A. TT TT W Tr vn r D m . A W A , l , ri) 0w u "aw , ;L "rl, -. ...fx ww " " Q te... ., a? VaTr Tt. mm- mmm- h D LOWEST PRICES OF THE YEAR n Availability varies months of speed and knee surgery, he could not score on Quinones' hit Leyland said LaValliere's base-running poses a problem. "Remember, Whitey (Herzog) traded him for (Tony) Pena because he didn't want to have to keep running for his catcher." Why the early hook for Robinson, who was pitching well? "You don't want to get to the eighth or ninth and have Mark Davis come in to relieve." So he sent up Distefano hoping to at least tie the game. "We knew he'd try to yank one out of the ballpark," Whitson said. "So I threw a sinker down and away. If he hits it, it's either a ground ball to short or a fly ball too shallow to score a run." That is just what happened, a fly ball to shallow center. "I thought I was right on it," said Distefano, "but it was a good pitch." When Barry Bonds followed with a fly to center, the Pirates' best-scoring chance was gone. NOTES Dr. James Andrews, an orthopedic surgeon from Birmingham, Ala., has recommended that first baseman Sid Bream have reconstructive surgery on his right knee that would put him out for the remainder of the season. Bream has not decided on the surgery, which would require 6-8 months recovery time. "The knee has felt better lately, so I may wait. I'm weighing whether I may be able to help this year against what it might do to my career." The All-Star break will start after today's game, which will match Randy Kramer (3-4) against the Padres' Dennis Rasmussen (3-6) ... Bonds is 3 for 34 . . . LaValliere is 6 for 12 since coming off the disabled list, but will not play today so he can rest his knee for four days. their bats and could be used as a pinch hitter when not starting. The Pirates would take the chance of losing Belliard if they tried to return him to the minors. But because they have come to the conclusion they can't win a division title with him at shortstop, and because he doesn't hit well enough to be a good utilityman, the loss would not be that great. Why does Benny Distefano sometimes platoon with Redus at first base? ,- ; Redus hits for a better average, runs better, fields better and has hit more home runs than Distefano. More than that, Redus appears to be at no disadvantage against the right-handed pitching he sometimes sits down for in favor of Distefano. He is hitting better against right-handed pitching than left-handed, and the same thing was true last season. He also is hitting better against right-handed pitching than Distefano. Why was no attempt made to sign catcher Alan Ashby after he was released by the Houston Astros? He would have been ideal in the role that Tom Prince and Bilardello were unable to fill. If the Pirates were willing at one point to give up Wilson for Ashby, why didn't they try to sign him when they didn't have to give up any player and when his salary would have been the major-league minimum? The Pirates don't seem to know where they want to go. Which is why they are going nowhere. Drastic Price For This One by dealer. Inventory based on total availability as of June 13. 1989. 2.9cr GMAC financing for 24 to qualified buyers when you buy and take delivery from dealer stock by July 10. 1989. 7 V l Is Marian KaraaTha Pittsburgh Pratt Bobby Bonilla grits teeth before popup in ninth MINOR-LEAGUE SPOTLIGHT The ability to overcome adversities is perhaps the biggest reason for pitcher Mike York's success at Harrisburg. After IS starts, York is 8-5 and his 2.45 ERA is third in the Eastern League. He has three complete games, two shutouts and 82 strikeouts in 99 innings. York, 24, struggled through four years in the minor leagues after signing with the New York Yankees in 1983. He was released by three teams, primarily be cause of a drinking problem. York said one of the turning points came in November 1986, when he signed with the Pirates. "That's when I was introduced to Sam McDowell (the Pirates' for-, mer counselor for drug and alcohol abuse). He really helped me with my life and my career." In 1987, York had a 17-6 record at Macon and led the South Atlantic League in victories. Last season, he was 9-2 with a 2.68 ERA at Salem in the Carolina League before being promoted to Harrisburg. But York was 0-5 with the Senators last year and lost his first four games this season. "When I moved up, I got intimidated a little. Mentally, I wasn't where I should have been. I thought I had to do things differently, but I was wrong. This year, I was losing games by one run but didn't get discouraged." CLIP AND SAVE Reductions Time Event! 'AmmmMi 'HCmw & V ' w -ls 'ffl i mar I Mike York Battling back York's best pitch is his fastball. "He has always had good stuff, but he is becoming a real polished E layer," Harrisburg Manager lave Trembley said. "He's learning he doesn't have to make a great pitch every time he throws to get someone out. Right now, he has 24 good pitches. When he gets that third, he'll be something special." "My goal is to end up with the Pirates this year," York said, "but I know if it doesn't happen it won't be the end of the world." Ken Mrazik (Through Thursday's games) Buffalo American Association (AAA) Second-place Buffalo (49-37) is 2 W games behind Eastern Division leader Indianapolis (53-36) . Third baseman Ckria Brtwa leads the Bisons with a .322 average. He is 19 for 59 . . . Outfielder Albert Ball (.300) doubled in one ninth-inning run and infielder Jay Ball (.296) singled in two as Buffalo defeated Omaha. 7-5. Bell has team highs of 10 home runs. 47 RBI. 46 runs and 12 errors. He is fourth in the league in homers and RBI .-. . Bell and first baseman-outfielder Star Handaraaa each have 72 hits. Henderson is third in the league with a .313 average . . . Outfielder Stava Carter is hitting .300 ... Infielder Saauay Khalifa's eighth-inning single drove in the winning run as the Bisons beat Omaha. 4-3. Khalifa is hitting .293 . . . Catcher Teas Prises has slumped to .189 . . . Hitting consistently are catcher Aatfy Ball (.262). outfielder Jeff Cook (.256) and infielder-outfielder Scett Little (.252) . . . Outfielder ffle WUUaaw (.249) . has 16 stolen bases . . . Dora Taylor (7-6. 2.74) has four complete ' games, including two shutouts . . . Bob Pattersoa is 6-3 with a 2.67 ERA . . . Log as Eaaley (3-1. 2.63) has 1 1 saves . . . Morris Madden is 6-3 with a 2.74 ERA . . . Soger Saaraels (1-1. 3.00) has two saves , in 12 appearances. Ilarrisburg The third-place Senators (39-38) Albany (60-18) . . . Outfielder Wee Cbamberlala leads the team with a JOS average, 84 hits, 12 home runs, 39 RBI and 35 runs . . . A two-run home run in the eighth inning by catcher Jeff Banister (.273) gave Harrisburg a 6-4 victory against Williamsport . . . Outfielder Jalio Peguerc (.247) has 14 stolen bases . . . Outfielder Ed YaeopiMof Aliquippa is hitting .274 (73 for 266) and leads with 18 doubles . . . Seton-La Salle graduate Eddie Bartauw has a .246 average (17 for 69) . . . Infielders Kevin Burdiek (.271), Rieo Bossy (.265) and Tommy Shields (.259) are hitting with consistency . . . BUI Sampan is 7-5 with a 3.29 ERA . . . Stan Belinda (1-3. 2.02) leads the league with 12 saves . . . Psts Marphy is 2-4, but has a 2.20 ERA . . . Ben Webb is 3-3 with a 4.38 ERA . , . Bobby Bussell is struggling with a 1-6 record and a 5.18 ERA after 33 innings. Salem Carolina League (A) Salem (8-10) is in second place in the Northern Division, three games behind second-half leader Prince William (10-6) ... Pete Blohm (0-1, 9.53), who was promoted from Augusta, gave up six earned runs in SVi innings in his first appearance at Salem. He was 13-4 with' a 2.32 ERA and 97 strikeouts at Augusta . . . Third baseman John Wehner, a Carrick graduate, leads the Buccaneers with a ,323 average. 103 hits and five triples . . . Outfielder Moisas Alan (.301) ' has team-highs of 12 home runs, 49 RBI. 29 doubles and 47 runs . . . Shortstop Carlos Garcia (.296) has 19 stolen bases and 31 errors . . . Second baseman Terry Crowley is hitting .2 78 .. . Randy Tomlln is 9-6 with a 3.45 ERA . . . Joe Ausanio (3-2. 3.04) has eight saves. Augusta South Atlantic League (A) Augusta (10-9), the first-half champion of the Southern Division, is in fourth place, one game behind first-place Columbia (10-7) . . . Third baseman Keith Raisansn leads the regulars with a .289 average, 1 1 home runs and 66 RBI . , . Second baseman Glenn McNabb is hitting .275 . . . Outfielder Greg Sims (.243) has 36 stolen bases in 52 attempts ... Struggling are shortstop Mike Huyler (.236), first baseman Ben Shelton (.220), catcher Mandy Romero (.219) and outfielder Chris Estep (.217). Huyler has 27 errors . . , Steve Bnckhola is 6-3 with a 1.99 ERA in 1 1 starts . . . Gateway graduate Tim McDowell is 5-4 with a 2.36 ERA . . . Antonio PelU (7-7. 4.19) . has 116 strikeouts in 109 innings . . . Jeff Neely (6-4, 0.78) has 14 saves. , , Wetland New York-Penn League (A) Fifth-place Welland (9-10) trails Stedler Division leader Niagara Falls ( 1 5-6) by five games . . . Second baseman Paul Keefer leads the team with a .373 average (19 for 51) . . . Five others have .300 or high-, er averages: infielder Plavio Williame - (.344) and outfielders-Valentine Henderson (.333) , William Pennyfeather (.319) . Mike Brewiagton (.316) and Ken Trusky (.314). Henderson leads with 25 hits and 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts. Trusky has a team-high 13 RBI ... Infielder Miks Fortnna (.136) has three home runs . David Bird is 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA . . . Javier Magria (2-1. 3.57) has 19 strikeouts in 17 W innings . . . Tom Deller (0-0, 3.38) has four saves ... Raymond Doss is 0-2 with a 2.89 ERA. Princeton Appalachian League (Rookie) Second-place Princeton (10-7) is two games behind Northern Division leader Pulaski (12-5) ... Catcher Jesss Torres . (.348) . outfielder Tim Curley (.327) and infielder Joss Rodrigues (.324) are the team's leading hitters. Curley has six stolen bases in six. attempts . . . First baseman Bill Holmes (.250) has six doubles and 14 RBI . . . Mare Giordano is 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA . . Ramon Martinss (1-0, 2.08) has two saves in five appearances . . . Delvy Santiago is 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 26 innings. Bradenton Gulf Coast League (Rookie) The Pirates (5-10) are in seventh place in the Southern Division and trail the first-place Rangers (10-5) by five games . . . Outfielder, Joel Pitcavage is 1 1 for 29, a .379 average . . . Shortstop Willie Greens, the Pirates' No. 1 draft choice this year. .is hitting .239 (11 for 46) and has two home runs . . . John Hops (0-1. 3.14) has 14 strikeouts in WA innings . . . Alex Arias is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA and one save . . . Joseph Pagan is 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA. - ' 1 J- Eastern League (AA) are 20'i games behind first-place : I 1 CLIP AND SAVE It

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