Tommy Lasorda got a scare last week when his best pitcher, Orel Hershiser, sprained his forearm delivering a pitch. The injury is not thought to be serious, though, and the pitcher probably won't miss a turn. Hershiser is the Dodgers' best at the moment because Fernando Valenzuela isn't throwing the way he used to. One Dodger official recently asked of Valenzuela, "Is that all there is?" and a coach replied, "He hasn't even thrown an average fastball all season. All those screwballs may have caught up to him."
When the Expos traded Jeff Reardon to Minnesota during the off-season, the move was taken by critics as further evidence—along with management's tough stance on free agency—that they weren't really interested in winning. Well, in their first 50 games, the Expos had exactly the same 27-23 record as a year ago and had two more saves (17-15). As for the players who came to the Expos in the trade, Neal Heaton is 7-2 and pitching prospects Yorkis Perez and Al Cardwood are a combined 9-1 at West Palm Beach, Fla. And poor Reardon is reliving Ron Davis's Minnesota nightmares. Reardon blew 5-4 and 6-4 leads in Boston last week, thus failing to cash in on 6 of 16 save opportunities, and the Twins were on a pace to surpass their 1986 mark of 27 losses in games in which they were tied or leading after the sixth. "It's been the same thing for the last four or five years, and I'm sick of it," said Kent Hrbek of the club's bullpen woes. "A team can't win when that keeps happening."
...Despite the success of the Kal Daniels-Tracy Jones leftfield platoon, the Reds offered Daniels to the Padres for reliever Lance McCullers (which would enable Cincy to start Ron Robinson). Daniels is unhappy with his role and about sometimes having to hit fifth rather than in his accustomed leadoff spot. Says Reds manager Pete Rose, "We're playing this game for the Cincinnati Reds, not Kal Daniels. If I'm not mistaken, we're in first place. And I'm still making out the lineup cards."
...There was also grumbling in the basement of the NL West. Padres rookie catcher Benito Santiago, who has 8 passed balls and 14 errors, told Tom Friend of the
Los Angeles Times
that the team's pitching "stinks," exempting only Rich Gossage, Ed Whitson and Andy Hawkins from that observation. "I think we've got guys [pitchers] who are afraid," Gossage added. "They're afraid to screw up. They know who they are. And they [the Padres' front office] ought to release them because they're worthless. Trade 'em. Do whatever they want with them." Santiago went on to say that Eric Show and Dave Dravecky have ignored him when he has gone to the mound and that so many other pitchers have crossed him up that he has put tape on his fingers to be certain that they could see the signs....
Three years ago, the Blue Jays died with their bullpen, or lack of it. So they committed more than $6 million in signing Bill Caudill and traded for Gary Lavelle, neither of whom panned out. Now they have the American League's best bullpen, with under-appreciated Tom Henke (9 saves in 10 opportunities), Mark Eichhorn, the comebacking Lavelle and Jeff Musselman. And by signing catcher Charlie Moore to go with Rick Leach, Garth Iorg and Rance Mulliniks, they now have a quality bench with experienced role players for the first time.