Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on March 25, 1984 · Page 42
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 42

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Sunday, March 25, 1984
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ft m l DFTROIT FREE PRESSSUNDAY, MARCH 25, 1984 1CD Fiq fin (tF7p1 elease 123 R 4 byT lgers stuns Leach By BILL McGRAW Free Press Sports Writer LAKELAND, Fla. - The Tigers gave Rick Leach his unconditional release Saturday in the middle of the team's exhibition game with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Leach, a former star quarterback at the University of Michigan, said he was "shocked." "Right now, things are going 100 miles per hour. I'm not sure what's happening," he said. : Leach is a left-handed hitting first baseman with a three-year major-league average of .236 and seven home runs. His status with the Tigers has been uncertain this spring, but he expected to be traded or demoted to the minors if he wasn't needed in Detroit. LEACH, 26, was in uniform for the 1 :30 p.m. game when general manager Bill Lajoie called him into manager Sparky Anderson's office. Afterward, Leach showered and dressed, then chatted briefly with teammates in the Detroit bullpen next to the clubhouse. He searched for his wife, Angie, in the stands, and told her the news. "She is shocked, too," he said. Until March 30, any team can claim Leach for $1 and assume his one-year contract for an estimated $100,000. If he is not claimed, Leach can make a deal with any team. He speculated that the Tigers released him because they didn't want to pay his salary in the minors. "Maybe, in the long run, this will work out best because if someone picks me up, I would think in my heart they would have an interest in me," he said. What if no team shows interest? "Maybe I would consider the football avenue," he replied, but he noted how difficult it would be to switch to football after five years of baseball. LEACH DECLINED to discuss how the Tigers handled his career after they picked him first in the June 1979 draft. He said he enjoyed working under Lajoie and former general manager Jim Campbell, but he added: "To be honest about it, I'd have to say my relationship with Sparky has been rocky the whole time I've been here. "In my heart I never felt I got a legitimate shot. That's the way it is in this game. I'd just like to go back twoyears ago when I hit .500 down here in the spring, won the starting first base job, then I had injury and things didn't really work out. "I think I could go into a lot of things, but those would be more or less bitter feelings. I'd really not like to get in there. I'd like to try to go out the same way I came in hopefully that was with a little class." . - Anderson said he had no idea what Leach meant by a .'i'rbcky relationship," and praised Leach as a "high class person." . "As far as not playing, I think the book will answer that," he said. 7 COACH BILLY CONSOLO said he didn't under- A John Vcskcnfuss C Dsvo Errn-nn 13 Bats right Throws right 6-0, 190 Age 35 Bats left Throws left 6-2, 180 Age 30 If- ):;!. . : . I ; ' ; 1 I nii.iH.iii i in nr i ...mil i TiiiHUi 'nAil d i i r itti BORN: Feb. 27, 1949, at Welch, W.Va. Married, with three children. D TIDBITS: Hit .353(6-for-17) as a pinch-hitter in '78 ... Hit grand slam vs. Texas, his second homer of the game, Aug. 8, '79 ... Set personal highs in '80 in seven categories, in cluding 16 homers in 372 at-bats . . . Twice had four-hit games in '82 . . . Hit .275 in 39 games as a designated hitter in '83 and had a pinch-hlt grand slam. i ( 4 13 r BORN: June 6, 1953, at Evanston, III. Married, with two children. TIDBITS: Won the New York-Pennsylvania League batting title (.348) and was named its player of the year in 1974... Led the Eastern League in batting (.311) and was named MVP in '75 . . doubles for the San Francisco Giants over a two-game stretch (May 24-25, 1981). Thirteen of his 38 hits went for extra bases that season ... Hit .320 after the All-Star Hit four consecutive Free Press Photo by MARY SCHROEDER Rick Leach (center) with Bill Freehan (left) and Marty Castillo moments after he was told he had been released by the Tigers. Lesch's star rose on U-H football field It was considered a daring move when Michigan coach Bo Schembechler started a left-handed freshman quarterback from Flint in the fall of 1975. But that quarterback, Rick Leach, ran Schem-bechler's option offense for the next four years, taking U-M to the Rose Bowl three times and Orange Bowl once. Leach was a better runner than a passer, which suited the Wolverine style just fine. He became an All-America, and in four years, he passed for 4,284 yards and 48 touchdowns. He gained 6,460 in total offense during his career. Leach was drafted by the NFL's Denver Broncos, but he chose baseball when the Tigers picked him in the first round. He said he figured the club was serious about him when they chose him so high in the draft. Leach's father, Dick, was a Michigan graduate who was a catcher in the Tiger organization in the 1950s. When Leach signed a Tiger contract in 1979, he posed with a Detroit uniform that actually belonged to Kirk Gibson, also a football star, but for Michigan State. Gibson already had signed a Tiger contract. Gibson was in right field for the Tigers Saturday when Leach was released. Schembechler was entertaining friends Saturday night and refused to come to the phone at his Ann Arbor home. But his wife, Millie, said: "We feel very, very badly about it. We discussed it. We're just hoping he gets picked up by some other team." break in 82 and had his first tour-hit game Yr Team Ag 0 ab R H HR bbi gep, g .g2 jn Houston. 74 Detroit .138 13 29 1 4 0 2 75 Detroit .229 35 116 15 27 4 13 Yr Team Av9 G AB R H HR RBI 76 Detroit .222 60 144 18 32 3 10 75 Yankees .000 7 17 0 0 0 0 77 Detroit !z74 53 164 26 45 9 25 77 Yankees .250 5 4 1 1 0 1 78 Detroit .283 71 187 23 53 7 22 76 Houston .231 104 166 15 43 0 12 79 Detroit .264 87 231 27 61 15 46 79 Houston .400 13 15 4 6 1 2 '80 Detroit .274 126 372 56 102 16 65 '80 Houston .256 90 78 12 20 0 3 '81 Detroit .215 70 172 20 37 9 25 '81 Hou-SF .255 63 145 16 37 3 13 82 Detroit .301 70 193 28 58 8 32 '82 San Fran. .273 100 121 22 33 4 14 r83 Detroit .269 92 245 32 66 9 44 '83 San Fran. .286 90 140 16 40 6 24 10 season. .261 677 1855 246 485 80 284 8eaaon .254 478 712 87 181 15 70 GIsnn Wilson OF Willis Hernandez P Bats right 6-1, 190 Bats left 6-2, 180 Throws right Age 25 Throws left Age 28 stand Leach's statement, either. He called Leach a "bear-down type guy." ' Leach first gained fame as a three-sport star at Flint Southwestern High, then led the Wolverines to three Rose Bowls and an Orange Bowl. He signed with the Tigers, spent parts of three seasons in the minors, then was called to Detroit. He is considered a good defensive first baseman, but his hitting never lived up to the Tigers' hopes. TIGER NOTES: The Tigers optioned to the Tiger-town minor-league complex pitchers pitchers Bryan Kelly and Randy O'Neal, catcher Bob Melvin, infield-ers Pedro Chavez and Scott Earl and outfielder Nelson Simmons. They also released Jim Smith, a veteran minor leaguer signed as a free agent Nov. 1 . . . Newly acquired Dave Bergman had two singles and drove in a run in a farewell performance with the San Francisco Giants. BORN: Dec. 22, 1958, at Baytown, Tex. Married, with one child. H TIDBITS: Set Tigers' rookie record with a 19-game hitting streak (Aug. 13-Sept. 2, '82), hitting .351 (27 for 77) ... Had a 10-game hitting streak (July 27-Aug. 5, '82) . . . Had two RBIs in five straight games, Aug. 7-10, '82 . . . Had 14-game hitting streak, July 31 -Aug. 13 . . . First Tiger to hit at least 10 homers in first two years in the majors since Steve Kemp (77-78) . . . Signed as a third baseman, switched to outfield in '81 . . . Collegiate All-America twice at Sam Houston State. Yr Team Avg G AB R H HR RBI 82 Detroit .292 84 322 39 94 12 34 '83 Detroit .268 144 503 55 135 11 65 2 seasons .278 228 825 94 229 23 99 f ml ' r Mm, C "1 F t: jl ' if v m V .-:ti.-,y km BORN: Nov. 14, 1955, at Aguada, Puerto Rico. H TIDBITS: Led Western Carolinas League pitchers in games started with 26 and complete games with 13 in 77... Tied NL record for most consecutive strikeouts by a relief pitcher in a game with six (July 3, '83). Yr Team W-L G IP Sv ERA 77 Cubs 8-7 67 110 4 3.03 78 Cubs 8 54 60 3 3 75 79 Cubs Ta 51 79 ) I57 '80 Cubs T$ 53 108 0 442 '81 Cubs (M 12 14 2 aii '82 Cubs 4 75 75 It) 100 '83 Cubs-Phi. 9-4 74 TlSVi 8 315 7 seasons 34-32 386 561 'A 27 3.72 :t y , I Mr 1 t A I P ' k ij - I I bl ' " feP j : f:' ' ft X 4 1 Tigers trade for Phils reliever Free Press Photos by MARY SCHROEDER OiK the door: left, John Wockenfuss and son Brad and right, Glenn Wilson, leave the clubhouse. 'A tense day at Tiger camp TIGERS, from Page 1D sometimes a left-handed designated hitter. With Marty Castillo at third (against left-handed pitching), Alan Trammell at short, Lou Whitaker at second and Bergman subbing at first, Anderson feels the Tigers have strengthened their infield defense. "We're flawless," he said. The acquisition of Hernandez and Bergman would appear to jeopardize positions on the 25-man roster of relievers Dave Gum-pert, Howard Bailey, Jerry Ujdur and John Martin, depending on whether Anderson decides to take nine or 10 pitchers north. It also might strengthen rookie catcher Dwight Lowry's chance of making the team, and it leaves a position open for a right-handed designated hitter. For the Phillies, getting Wockenfuss and Wilson opens the way for additional deals the team has planned, Anderson said. Hernandez, 29, led the pennant-winning Phillies last season with 74 appearances. He had a 9-4 record, 3.28 ERA and eight saves. In 115'3 innings, he struck out 93 and walked 32. Hernandez once threw 24 straight scoreless innings last season and went 92 consec utive innings without yielding a home run. He throws a screwball, fastball and slider. His wins, strikeouts and innings pitched were career highs. Hernandez pitched for the Cubs for seven years before being traded to Philadelphia last May 22 for Dick Ruthven and Bill Johnson. Bergman, 30, is known for his defensive ability at first base and his skill as a pinch hitter. Anderson called him an above-average runner. He ranked third in National League pinch hitting last year at .355 with 11 hits in 31 at-bats, including two home runs and nine RBIs. For the season, he batted .286 with six home runs and 24 RBIs in 140 at-bats. WOCKENFUSS AND Wilson were fan favorites in Detroit, and both mentioned how they would miss their friends and fans there. Wockenfuss, 35, played catcher, first base, left field, designated hitter and pinch hitter in his 10 years on the Tigers. Last season, he batted .269 with nine home runs and 44 RBIs in 245 at bats. Wilson, 25, was touted as a star of the future when he first appeared at Tiger Stadium in the summer of 1982. He played right field last season, batting .268 with 11 home runs and 65 RBIs after a second-half slump. He played mainly center in 1982, but was switched to third base this spring when Kirk Gibson was made the right fielder. Wilson was originally a third baseman when he signed with the Tigers, but his fielding was weak there this month. Anderson criticized him for both his glove work and his base running after the first exhibition game. Wilson said there were some things that he was bitter about, but he declined to discuss them. He said: "My momma always told me, 'Don't say nothing bad if you don't have nothing nice to say.' " Anderson said the deal culminated days of hard work by Lajoie. He also noted how Lajoie had set out to obtain a power hitter for first base and a left-handed reliever before the 1984 season. Lajoie signed free agent Evans in December. "I don't know that you can do much better than that," Anderson said. B"y BILL McGRAW Ftee1 Press Sports Writer LAKELAND, Fla. It started out like any other spring training day. S The lineups were posted, visiting manager Tommy LBsOrda hammed it up for the Lakeland fans, and Milt Wilcox fooled Dodger outfielder Candy Maldonado wjth his knuckleball in the second inning of a game the Tigers would lose, 3-2. The first sign tnat baturaay wouia oe auierent came about 1:45 p.m., when reporters noticed general manager Bill Lajoie talking to Rick Leach. The message turned out to be that Leach was no longer a Tfger. The Tigers made no official announcment until aljput 5 p.m., but because of the clubhouse meeting, Leach was trapped into the embarrassment of public- Vrpacking his bags, informing his wife and shaking hij teammates' hands in the Detroit bullpen. r f GLENN WILSON watched intently as he lounged orf a large packing case on the clubhouse porch. P'Tm just kicking back, he said m his Texas drawl. But Wilson, and others, figured something was coqk'ing if the team had released a left-handed first baseman. 'Soon, It was made known there would be a major arraouncement at about 5 p.m. r- Jhe atmosphere grew tenset; '.Wilson huddled with Wockenfuss in the bullpen. The two had been most mentioned in recent rumors. Wilson walked over to the chain fence that separates the bullpen and stands, and chatted quietly with his wife, Cindy. Public relations director Dan Ewald summoned manager Sparky Anderson out of the dugout; the two talked under a palm tree. The message: The trade with Philadephia was all set. "I didn't pay much attention to the game after that," Anderson said. IN THE CLUBHOUSE after the game, the mood was light but expectant as Wilson and Wockenfuss dressed quietly. Both shot frequent glances toward Anderson's office. Finally, Anderson walked out and motioned for them to enter. The two strolled in to hear the news from Anderson and Lajoie. "Happy trails to you," sang a voice from a distant corner. Alan Trammell, one of the Tigers' most valuable players, pretended he also had been called into the office, as if li were part of the trade. Trammell, 26, joked that he was going to announce his retirement. Bystanders could look through a window in the closed door to see Wilson relaxed and smoking as the four men talked. The confab lasted about 15 minutes and was punctuated with smiles and laughter. When the door opened, and Wilson and Wockenfuss walked out, Marty Castillo looked up and said, "Where to, man?" But the two new Phillies didn't answer. And Lajoie ( 7v AP Photo NO POSITION OPEN FOR WILSON Where will he play? Milt Wilcox wears a look of disbelief after being called for a balk Saturday against the Phillies. and Anderson didn't tell them who the Tigers had obtained in exchange, Wilson said later. Anderson was beaming. "After the game (Dodger vice-president) Al Cam-panis walked up to me and said, 'You got a hell of a club,'0' Anderson said. ; Free Press Staff and Wire Reports CLEARWATER, Fla. - Seven good reasons why Glenn Wilson does not figure to be an everyday outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies: Gary Matthews, Greg Gross, Bob Dernier, Von Hayes, Garry Maddox, Sixto Lezcano and Joe Lefebre. One great reason why Glenn Wilson will not be an everyday third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies: Mike Schmidt. THE BURNING question about Saturday's trade which sent Wilson and John Wockenfuss to the Phillies for reliever Willie Hernandez and backup first baseman Dave Bergman is what will the Phillies do with Wilson. The aformentioned seven outfielders have been battling for the three Philadelphia outfield positions all spring. Matthews is ticketed for full-time duty in left. Hayes or Maddox are supposed to play center with Dernier as a defensive backup. Lezcano and Lefebre are set W pla toon in right. Each one has more major league experience than Wilson. As for third base where Wilson has tried out this spring Schmidt is a perennial All-Star and a Gold Glove performer in the field. Still, Phillies manager Paul Owens said Saturday that he planned to play Wilson every day, but he didn't say in what position. OWENS SAID that, according to Phillies' scouts, Wilson is one of the better power-hitting outfielders around. "Down the road we feel we got considerable help for the future in the power potential of Wilson." "And of course, Wockenfuss is the guy I wanted all along." The key may be more Phillie deals. "We're not done (trading) yet," said Owens. The Phillies will use Wockenfuss as a right-handed pinch-hitter, and backup catcher-first basemtn. aalliHBaft UNUM - A- 1ii rf- ir iri lit lift hi x

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