Kruk played almost the entire spring on a leg bruised so badly that it could have been exhibited under glass at the Mutter. "Kruk's always hurt," says Giles. "But his injuries rarely keep him out of games." Kruk hadn't missed an inning this season until he strained his left groin while legging out an infield hit in Cincinnati on Sunday and left in the seventh.
He not only plays hurt, he plays well—he hadn't made an error in his last 85 games through Sunday—and he plays wherever needed: first, left, right and, when Dykstra is out, center. "That's what I'm paid for." says Kruk. "Besides, baseball's boring unless you play it. It I had to sit around and watch, I'd go home."
That would be back to West Virginia, where porch-sitting is as much of a pastime as stoop-sitting is in South Philly. "Kruk is actually more of a couch sitter," says former teammate Randy Ready. "He might be the original sofa spud. Give him a couch and a remote control, and he's set."
Loafing takes up most of Kruk's off-season. "Light hours I sleep," he says. "Six hours I sit, and the other 10 I lie around." It makes no difference if he's settling into a couch or an easy chair. "When it comes to laying around," he says, "I'm pretty flexible."
Exercise is unthinkable. "I went to a batting camp once last winter, but I couldn't hit at all," he says. "I figured I'd just put myself in a slump, so I quit." Roadwork? Impossible. "It's 20 below zero on my farm in February," he says. "What am I supposed to do, run? I'd freeze to death."
Kruk's farm spreads out over the green mountain coal country of Mineral County in West Virginia's eastern panhandle. The farm is perched on the side of a winding road more or less in Burlington, which is a snip of a village near his hometown, Keyser. Kruk met his wife, Jamie, a few years ago at Keyser's video store, where she was working behind the counter. They were married last spring on May 6 and now share the farm with Jamie's pet Pomeranian and Kruk's Samoyed, whose names he refuses to divulge. "You don't want to know," he says cryptically. "Just say they're two dogs, and leave it at that."
Equally mysterious is the fact that Kruk's father, Frank, is called Moe. "Don't ask me why he changed it, because I don't know," says Kruk. "Only 15 or 20 people in the world know the real story, and they ain't telling."
Frank/Moe, who used to work in Keyser's bottling plant, is the first natural choice in memory for the lead in The Don Zimmer Story. "He looks like me, only shorter," Kruk says of his father. "It's a scary thought." Kruk has three older brothers, Joe, Tom and Larry. "If I had a daughter, and she came home with Tom or Larry, I'd be happy," says Kruk. "But if she came home with me or Joe, I'd kill her. Me and Joe are alike—we're all screwed up."
The Kruk boys played ball all day, every day. "Rain, snow, it didn't matter," Kruk says. But he never imagined that he would someday make the big leagues. "I didn't lack confidence in my ability," he says. "I just didn't think anyone knew West Virginia existed."
The San Diego Padres spotted him in a Virginia summer league when he was 20 and picked him in the June '81 amateur draft. Kruk's Virginia manager advised him to stay. "You're not good enough yet," the skipper said. Kruk ignored him. "Maybe I wasn't good enough," he reflects. "But everyone's entitled to his own opinion."