METS MANAGER TAKING SHORTCUTS
, the man who made
a shortstop in 1984, continues to defy critics by playing both
at short, even with Rafael Santana healthy. Johnson was batting .235 (12 for 51) in 15 games (14 starts) at shortstop. He has hit safely in all but five of the 14 starts. Mitchell is 4 for 13 in three starts at short, having hit safely in each. Santana has started 15 games at shortstop. "I always felt that if it wasn't a total liability, go with the best offense you can put out there," Johnson argues. "It never made much sense to me to start your best defensive team, get behind and then have to pinch-hit." But last week the Mets lost two games when Mitchell and Johnson failed to make plays Santana would have....
There was quite a bit of bloodletting in Boston last weekend as the Red Sox and Rangers fought for first in their respective divisions. Saturday Oil Can Boyd hit Don Slaught of Texas in the face with a pitch, fracturing his nose and cheekbone, and Sunday Larry Parrish spiked Boston pitcher Al Nipper, opening a deep gash in his knee that required surgery....
Even though Tony La Russa fought hard to keep Tom Seaver, he admits that "if we can't catch up in the race, Seaver could be the key to the Eastern Division race—whoever gets him, Boston or New York." Seaver's fastball was recently clocked at 89 mph....
One deal the Yankees regret was giving Don Baylor to Boston for Mike Easier. The Yanks were under .500 in games started by opposing lefties, while scoring less than four runs in those games. Baylor's leadership, meanwhile, "changed this entire team around the day he walked in the clubhouse," says
. Recalling that the White Sox almost had Baylor for
, La Russa says, " Baylor is one player I've always dreamed of managing. The minute he retires, he'll have teams beating down his door trying to get him to manage." One ex-Yank adds that
is nearly as significant a clubhouse loss as Baylor, saying "If he were still there,
would be salvageable."
...Speaking of teams having problems against lefties, the Tigers won only two of the first nine games they started against southpaws, and they're now trying to deal
for a righthanded hitter. Two years ago, with a young, set lineup, people figured that the Tigers were good for years. Ditto the Blue Jays last year. But the moment doesn't last very long. Now, with a barren farm system, the Tigers are in a state of transition (15 transactions in the first six weeks) with almost nothing to trade....
One of the areas that Twins manager
tried hardest to improve was his middle infield, which turned the second-fewest double plays in the league last season. This year, with Steve Lombardozzi and
, they're near the league lead. With the underappreciated Gary Gaetti having a big year at third, the Twins have come up with one of their best all-around infields. "Lombardozzi turns the double play as well as anyone I've ever seen," claims Miller. "He reminds me of
...If they had won half of the dozen games their bullpen has blown, the Twins would be near the top of the AL West....
journeyed down to Anaheim to take a peek at Boston outfielder
because the Red Sox are trying to peddle him and come up with a centerfielder with range....
The Reds were brutally honest in dispatching
back to Denver, trying to awaken the touted rookie. "He cost us at least four games in the outfield," said G.M. Bill Bergesch. "I want to talk to the scouts who said he was a great outfielder. Are they looking at the same player I am?" Added
, "Kal has to realize that there's more to this game than hitting. We had reports his work habits were poor. I had hoped we could change that. We didn't."