The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 7, 1985 · Page 13
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 13

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Sunday, April 7, 1985
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The Salina Journal Sunday, April 7,1985 Page 13 Rose closes in on Cobb's record By JOHN NELSON AP Sports Writer TAMPA, Fla. - Ty Cobb's eyes peer out of a pinched face, his thin lips curled in a humorless smile, as if to dare Pete Rose to break the record. Cobb stands in a traditional pose in this picture, wearing his Detroit Tigers uniform and holding a baseball bat, choked up about three inches from the bottom, his hands slightly apart. The pictures, accompanied by stories in magazines and books, and numbers in the record book are all Rose knows of Cobb, except for what his late friend, Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt, told him: "That he was the meanest man he ever met in a fight." "Cobb was a great hitter," Rose says, "but the thing that's always surprised me is that I don't ever read much about his defensive ability. I know the other players like me a little bit better than they liked Cobb." In addition to being player-manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Rose is a baseball fan. He reads baseball, studies baseball, lives baseball, and now teaches baseball. And when it comes to Cobb, Rose certainly knows the mathematics. He knows, for instance, that Cobb had 4,191 hits in his career, which ended in 1928 after 24 major league seasons. He knows also that after his 22 seasons, he is 95 hits away from breaking the record, which, like Babe Ruth's home run mark, once was thought unassailable. "Most longevity records are hard to break," the 44-year-old ''ose says. "Players don't think 4 jout playing that long anymore. Owners don't want to pay them that long. When I get that record, I think it'll be pretty hard to break." Rose says "the record will fall," Cobb-Rose comparison Career comparisons of Ty Cobb and Pete Rose: Cobb 24 3.033 11.429 4.191 724 297 118 2.244 1,959 1.249 357 892 .367 Years Games Played At-Bots Hits Doubles Triples Home Runs Runs RBI Walks Strikeouts Stolen Bases Average Rose 22 3,371 13,411. 4,097 726 131 158 2.090 1.266 1.449 1,077 187 .305 predicting Aug. 26 as the most likely date. But when the hit mark is his, Rose adds, it won't diminish anything that Cobb did. "When I get that record, all that will make me is the player with the most hits," Rose says. Rose spent the first 16 years of his major league career with the Reds, three times leading the National League in batting and getting more than 200 hits in nine seasons. He played on four National League pennant-winning Reds teams and two World Series champions. After joining Philadelphia in 1979 as a free agent, he played for two more pennant winners and won another World Series ring. Cut loose by Philadelphia after the 1983 season, Rose joined the Montreal Expos. Reds President Bob Howsam finally brought Rose back as player-manager in a trade for Tom Lawless last August. "The interesting thing about being a baseball player for a long time is that you always have to prove you can do it," Rose says. "When I came back here, I knew I could still hit. I told Bob Howsam, 'If I think I can hit, and you think I can hit, why shouldn't I be out there hitting? 1 " . As player-manager, Rose will be the master of his own destiny as he chases Cobb's mark. Between Montreal and Cincinnati last year, Rose had 107 hits and a .286 batting average. Rose played in 26 games for the Reds in 1984, getting 35 hits in 96 at-bats for a ,365 average. If he keeps up that pace, the record probably will fall. With a lifetime batting average of .305, Rose has a great deal of experience in breaking records. His 4,097 hits already are a National League record. He hit in 44 consecutive games from June 14-July 31, 1978, for a modern NL mark. He also holds the major league records for games played (3,371), at-bats (13,411), singles (3,082), most seasons with 200 or more hits (10), consecutive seasons with 100 or more hits (22), highest lifetime fielding percentage for an outfielder (.991), and most winning games (1,870). Of all of these, Rose sometimes seems most proud of the record for playing in 1,870 winning games. That may provide a key to understanding his mental makeup — for understanding how he could put the team before records. "Forty years from now, when I'm gone, do you think anybody is going to remember that I played in more winning games than anybody else?" Rose asks."People will remember what is written about me. I don't know how I'll be remembered. I don't think about it. I don't think about things that I can't do anything about." His primary concern in spring training was getting himself and his players ready for the season. For many of .the players, working for Pete Rose was a pleasure. "He makes the game fun," says Dave Concepcion, who played with Rose during many of those halcion days of the '70s. "When you see a 44-year-old guy play the way he does, you know you better do it, too, or be embarrassed." And Tony Perez, another reunited Reds teammate, says Rose will get the most out of his team "because you love to play for him. He puts every single guy on this team at ease." Rose delves back into his earlier days with the Reds, playing for Sparky Anderson, to explain his philosophy of managing. "I picked up something from everybody I ever played for," Rose says. "Sparky taught me how to handle men. I may have three players — one needs a kick in the rear, one needs a pat and one needs nothing. Each player is an individual. I'll never be the kind of manager who sees a guy in the clubhouse, walks into his office, and that's it." 1 And he also recalls something else from his earlier days, perhaps a reason for his relentless chase of Cobb's record. "Johnny Bench, Carl Yastr- zemski, Saduharu Oh — these three guys — I don't think any of them were done playing when they quit," Rose says. "But their teams went south on them. Their teams went bad, and it wasn't as much fun anymore. "If I was 41 or 42 years old, even if I was hitting .290, and my team was dead last, I don't think I'd have any fun. I've been lucky. I've always played for winners." Howe, Blue trying to forget the past By BEN WALKER AP Sports Writer The boxscore of their recent lives is far from a perfect game. There have been runs to rehabilitation centers, hits on hallucinogens and errors of judgment. Now, Steve Howe and Vida Blue face the prospect of trying to pitch effectively again in the major leagues after missing the entire 1984 season. They are two of the players attempting a comeback from drugs. "If I'm out there opening day, then I'm the comeback player of the year, just for being there," said Howe, who was suspended last season for using cocaine. "I'm not here to preach about the past," said Blue, who was released by Kansas City in August 1983, was one of four Royals sentenced to prison for cocaine use, and also was under suspension in 1984. "I'm happy to have a chance to pitch." Howe knew that regaining his spot as the ace of the Los Angeles bullpen would be difficult. So far, it ; has been. He last pitched for the Dodgers in September 1983. Earlier that season, he underwent drug rehabilitation, but he was suspended by the team — for the second time — in September after more problems. In December, then-Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended him for 1984. A few months later, his wife sued for divorce (they since- have reconciled). Last fall, Howe said he would pitch in the Arizona Instructional League. But he indicated he wasn't sure if he would return to majors. "I have a darn good reason why I shouldn't come back," he said. "My No. 1 priority is my recovery. Not baseball, not money, not prestige." In October, he went to the Dominican Republic winter league, but had to quit after three appearances because of a sore left elbow. In January, he needed elbow surgery. Howe pitched only twice during spring training. Last Monday against Detroit, he gave up four runs in two-thirds of an inning. Still, team owner Peter O'Malley was there, and applauded both when Howe went to the mound and when he walked off. "It was great to see him back," Dodgers pitching coach Ron Perra- noski said. "The biggest thing is if he comes out of this healthy." The Dodgers are betting that he'll make it back, while Howe and Al Campanis, the team's vice president, for player personnel, have their own little side bet. Many would have bet that Blue's career was over Aug. 5, 1983. That was the day he was released from the Royals with an 0-5 record and a 6.01 earned run average. Soon thereafter, Blue, Willie Wilson, Willie Aikens and Jerry Martin pleaded guilty to drug charges and were each sentenced to three "If I'm out day, then I'm player of the being there." there opening the comeback year, just for —Steve Howe months in jail. Wilson, Aikens, who had been traded to Toronto, and Martin, who had been traded to the New York Mets, were reinstated in mid-May. Wilson went on to help spark Kansas City to a surprising American League West crown; Aikens had trouble returning to form and faces an uncertain role with, the Blue Jays this year; Martin, who had predicted "it'll only take a few games to get my feet back on the ground," hit .154 with the Mets, was released at the end of the season and is now out of baseball. Blue, whose sentencing was delayed, was suspended by Kuhn in July for the remainder of the season. But Blue, the AL Most Valuable Player in 1971 with Oakland, kept working out and waiting. He came to spring training this year with the Giants at age 35 as a non-roster player. "I felt he had maybe one chance in 10 of making the team, but he looked better every time we saw him," Giants general manager Tom Haller said. After three strong showings, Blue was offered a contract. He'll be used as a long reliever and spot starter. "I felt I would make it with the Giants," Blue said. "They invited me and gave me a chance. I still have a long way to go to be back where I was when I was with Oakland." It remains to be seen whether Blue can regain the fastball that kept him in baseball. Yet he and the others have gotten second chances in the major leagues. And Howe says it's literally a new lease on life. "There isn't a situation now that I don't know how to get out of. I have every tool to get out of any situation," Howe said. "There's a two- letter word that can get me out of a situation to even consider taking drugs again — 'N-O.' "I can't even reflect on them, actually, I won't," he said. "Drugs are right where they belong, in the past." New York again has two title contenders NEW YORK (AP) - For the first time in almost three decades, New York is approaching the baseball season with as many pennant contenders as it has teams, and the championship chances of the New York Mets and the New York Yankees has the Big Apple humming. At stake in the battle is the fan following and dollars of the nation's largest market, with accompanying opportunities for mechandising and moneymaking far beyond the outfield fences of the south Bronx and Flushing, Queens. "The whole town is talking baseball, who's better than who," says Dave Winfield, the Yankees' lanky outfielder. "That's good for everybody." Over the decade from 1947-56, the World Series was an all-New York affair seven times — the Yankees representing the American League, the Brooklyn Dodgers or the New York Giants defending the National League before their transfers to the West Coast. The Series became the gist of endless street-corner arguments about the town's three center fielders. Who was better — Willie, Mickey or The Duke? Now the same questions — and the same sense of anticipation — surrounds the Yankees and Mets. Who do you like at first base, young Don Mattingly of the Yankees, the American League batting champion, or seven-time Gold Glove winner Keith Hernandez of the Mets, runner-up for the National League Most Valuable Player Award? Who's the better lefty reliever, Dave Righetti of the Yankees or Jesse Orosco of the Mets? Each had 31 saves last season. Which survivor of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine teams will be more productive in left field, career .301 hitter Ken Griffey of the Yankees or the Mets' George Foster and his 313 home runs? Which right fielder would you rather have, young Darryl Strawberry of the Mets, who has slugged 26 homers in each of his first two seasons, or the veteran Winfield, who hit .340 for the Yankees last year? The arguments heated up last season and reached fever pitch over the winter when both teams went out and traded for major new stars, moves that stamped them as legitimate pennant threats. Ever since the Mets were born in 1962, the two New York clubs have traveled in distinctly opposite directions. Like the Bronx and the Battery, one was up and the other was down. Never have both been pennant contenders in the same season. The reasons that has changed are two of baseball's top stars — catcher Gary Carter, acquired by the Mets, and speedster Rickey Henderson, who will patrol center field for the Yankees. They came to New York within days of each other last December in a classic example of Can You Top This. The company line from both the Yankees and Mets is that this city is big enough for both of them. Yankee owner George Steinbrenner is fond of saying Met bosses Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon are among baseball's best owners. But they are selling the same product in the same marketplace, and when a little oneupmanship is possible, they're more than happy to grab the opportunity. Last year, after seven straight second-division finishes, the Mets challenged the Yankees for the town's attention. The condition was compounded when the Mets found themselves in a race for the National League East title with the Chicago Cubs, while the Yankees fell far behind the red-hot Detroit Tigers in the American League East. The often volatile Steinbrenner laid low through much of the season. Then, in September, with his team playing its best ball of the year, the Yankees briefly passed the Mets in won- loss percentage. Steinbrenner declared that it would be OK for New York to have two No. 1 teams, but the Yankees would never be No. 2. They were in 1984, though, with their 87-75 third-place performance producing an attendance of 1,821,815, down more than 400,000 from the previous year's 2,257,976. The 90-72 second place Mets, meanwhile, went up more than 700,000, from 1,103,808 to 1,829,482. It marked the first time that each team had drawn 1.8 million or won 87 games in the same season and that was with only one legitimate race. If both make pennant runs, it could mean a total New York baseball attendance of 4 million. "I'm not looking for a battle with them," Steinbrenner said of the Mets. "I want them to do well. We'll get our 2 million. I ^ hope they get theirs, too." " " Much of the Met excitement revolves around young players such as slugger Strawberry and pitcher Dwight Gooden. Each is barely out of his teens and they have captured the last two NL Rookie of the Year awards. "We have the kids," Doubleday says. "Those guys are going to be a force in New York." Gooden led the majors with 276 strikeouts last season, and the certainty that he will pitch the season opener at Shea Stadium Tuesday has made it the Mets' first opening day advance sellout ever. The Yankees begin the season on the road and say only that "sales are going well" but will not project an attendance for their home opener the following week. The year-long turnstile-spinning potential is there for both of them, though, because their lineups are loaded. Cashen, however, is characteristically cautious. "I can't guarantee we'll win," he said. "Nobody can do that. I'd be an idiot to say that. But when we got Hernandez, that made us respectable. When we got Carter, that made us a contender." Padres take steps to improve on success of '84 campaign Last in a series previewing the 1985 Major League baseball divisions. By The Associated Press When a division champion stands pat, the result usually is predictable. There's a new division champion next year. San Diego general manager Jack McKeon understands this axiom of baseball. So, if the Padres fall in 1985, it won't be because they stood pat. After winning the National League West by 12 games last season, "Trader Jack" took three important steps toward retaining the title. He traded four players, including Tim Lollar, to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher LaMarr Hoyt and two minor leaguers. He also signed free agents Tim Stoddard, a reliever, and utilityman Jerry Royster. Hoyt won the Cy Young in 1983 with a 2410 record before falling off to 13-18 last season. Still, McKeon calls him "the rock that will anchor my staff." In 1984, Atlanta and Houston tied for second behind the Padres, followed by Los Angeles, Cincinnati and San Francisco. This year, they'll finish this way: San Diego, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, Cincinnati and San Francisco. SAN DIEGO Hoyt, a right-hander, will replace free- agent Ed Whitson in a starting staff that might also include right-handers Eric Show and Andy Hawkins, and left-handers Mark Thurmond and Dave Dravecky. Hawkins and Dravecky pitched in long relief last year, but the addition of Stoddard will free them to start. Manager Dick Williams' short men are right-hander Rich Gossage and left-hander Craig Lefferts, who had 35 saves between them last year. Williams' biggest concern is in the outfield, where both Kevin McReynolds and Carmelo Martinez are coining back from injury. His healthy outfielder, Tony Gwynn, led the NL last year with a .351 batting average. Third baseman Graig Nettles, at 40, probably can't play every day. But Royster will provide depth at that position. Besides McReynolds and Nettles, the big RBI men are Steve Garvey and Terry Kennedy, who had a subpar 57-RBI season in '84. ATLANTA The Braves made two major additions to their roster — reliever Bruce Sutler and catcher Rick Cerone — and changed managers, Eddie Haas for Joe Torre. Despite the acquisition of free-agent Sutler, who tied the major league record with 45 saves, Atlanta has at least one major problem. Third baseman Bob Homer probably won't start the season after suffering another injury. In addition, outfielder Claudell Washington was arrested on a drug charge in California and could face a suspension. Ken Oberkfell, a lifetime .300 hitter, might fill in while Homer recuperates from a broken wrist, but he can't replace the power. Dale Murphy will have to carry that load, along with promising youngsters Gerald Perry and Brad Komminsk. Cerone might take the starting catcher's job from Bruce Benedict. Cerone had championship experience with the Yankees before being traded, and he has some power. LOS ANGELES It sounds strange to say it, but the Dodgers made very few changes after a 79-83 campaign in '84. Their sole acquisition brought Al Oliver over from Philadelphia. Oliver, who has played first base most of the past four seasons, probably will play left field. With the personnel they have — like pitchers Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser, and sluggers Pedro Guerrero and Mike Marshall — it's hard to believe the Dodgers can't finish at least .500. But they still have problems. They will be one of the poorest defensive teams in the league, and reliever Steve Howe and starter Alenjandro Pena have arm problems. Howe underwent elbow surgery in January after having missed a season because of drug suspension. HOUSTON The Astros are the sleeper of the division. Plagued by poor starts the past two seasons, they have been unable to contend. Bob Lillis returns a team this year that made few changes. The key to Houston's success is the comeback bid by shortstop Dickie Thon, who was sidelined for all but five games of the '84 season with vision problems after he was struck in the face with a pitch. His vision may be permanently impaired. The Astros have some decent pitching in starters Nolan Ryan, Joe Niekro and Bob Knepper, and relievers Dave Smith, Frank DiPino, Bill Dawley and Joe Sambito, who continues a two-year comeback from elbow surgery. Lillis needs to find another starter. Jose Cruz and Jerry Mumphrey provide what little punch this team shows, but a healthy Thon could help here. He had 20 homers, 79 RBI and batted .286 in 1983. CINCINNATI Buoyed by the enthusiasm of player-manager Pete Rose, the Reds could get off to a fast start this year, and that could save them from the cellar. But the Reds really are strong at only a few positions: Mario Soto as their No. 1 starter, Dave Concepcion at shortstop, Dave Parker in right fielder and, perhaps, even Rose himself at first base. Late in the spring, the Reds still were trying to pick a catcher from among four so-so candidates. Cesar Cedeno could help if he can maintain some intensity over the long season, but much of the Reds' attack will be predicated upon the success of Gary Redus. Redus had just seven homers and 22 RBI after a stellar rookie season. SAN FRANCISCO New manager Jim Davenport faces some rather grim prospects in his major league managerial debut. Jack Clark, who has led the Giants in RBI four times since 1978, was traded to St. Louis, leaving Jeff Leonard to shoulder the burden. The Giants might get some help from David Green, who was partial payment for Clark, but Green never lived up to his potential in four seasons with the Cardinals. The real bright spot left over from last season was the performance of rookie Dan Gladden, who hit .351 in 86 games with 31 RBI and 31 stolen bases while playing excellent center field. The Giants also might have improved their pitching by getting Jim Gott from Toronto and Dave LaPoint from St. Louis. (The Longshot: Houston, if Thon returns.)

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