CHISOX DILEMMA: PUDGE DOESN'T WANT TO BUDGE
Life with the White Sox: The general manager showed up for games in uniform (HAWK 40), an owner was spotted scouting a B game one morning, and 14 ex-major-leaguers-turned-instructors scrambled around Sarasota, Fla., reminding some observers of the Cubs' old college of coaches. "The ideas that bounced around here have been tremendous," said manager Tony La Russa. Hawk Harrelson's approach has been innovative, untraditional and sometimes zany.
There was Carlton Fisk in leftfield, unhappy, overheard saying to Harrelson, "You're ruining my career for Joel Skinner." Tom Seaver was pitching, but was miserable, saying, "After 300, I'm seriously wondering if it's worth another season of being in Chicago." Harrelson tried to trade him to the Yankees or Red Sox, but La Russa kept trying to convince the Hawk not to trade his best pitcher. Now, despite every honest attempt by Harrelson to praise his manager, the death-watch has already begun. Hawk does revere Dick Williams.
One coach suggests that Fisk will be back behind the plate by the end of April, which Harrelson denies. "They say this is good for prolonging my career, but I've worked so hard on my conditioning that I never got tired catching," Fisk protests. "How come I hit 37 homers? Anyway, when Yaz got older, didn't they take him out of left-field? It's not like I lost the catching job; I just got up one morning and read that I was the leftfielder. Hawk even called me at 8:15 one morning and asked if I could play third base. And any time I even think about my chances at the Hall of Fame [among catchers Fisk is third alltime in homers, fifth in runs, seventh in RBIs and No. 15 in games caught], I'm supposedly selfish. This is like bringing Seaver over here, 27 games from his 300th win, and saying, 'Tom, we want you to be a middle reliever, and it'll only take you 15 years to get your 300th.' Now, by not catching all spring, it'll be hard to get back there. It takes time."
La Russa doesn't feel that the White Sox can afford to lose Seaver because his departure would put undue heat on the rehabilitating Richard Dotson and the rest of the rotation. La Russa has also expressed unhappiness at the release of outfielder Rudy Law, saying, "I'm a Rudy Law man.... I believe he's on his way to a great 1986 season. I just wish it were with us." La Russa has already had to endure two coaches being added and a phone line from pitching coach-broadcaster Don Drysdale's booth being installed without his consent. The unhappiness of the future Hall of Famers makes La Russa's hold on his job more tenuous.
IT'S BACK TO THE FUTURE FOR SOME SELECT VETS
Spring training was notable for extraordinary comebacks:
? Steve Carlton, Phillies. At 41, he has recovered so well from shoulder ailments and a 1-8 record that he was rewarded with the Opening Day assignment. He has a new screwball to go with his slider.
? Rick Burleson, Angels. He hasn't played in the field since 1983, but after a serious shoulder operation, then a frightening weight-lifting accident that separated his shoulder and left his hand numb for more than nine months, the 34-year-old Rooster hit .344 in spring training. He will open the season alternating between second and shortstop.
? Dennis Leonard, Royals. His last major league start was in May of '83, but after extensive reconstructive knee surgery and grueling rehabilitation, he is back to help K.C.