WHY WASTE HITS IN FLORIDA?
Montreal Expos centerfielder Mitch Webster batted .146 in spring training and then opened the season with nine hits in his first 13 at bats. Texas Rangers first baseman Pete O'Brien was 2 for 33 in a 10-game stretch during spring training but began the season by going 8 for 11.
MILLION DOLLAR BAR
Someone threw a Clark Bar onto the field to welcome Jack Clark to Yankee Stadium. Clark, who has missed an average of 55 games in each of the last three seasons, opened 1988 not only on the Yankees' disabled list but also in Florida, where he was undergoing rehabilitation for a torn tendon in his left calf. A close inspection of the candy bar revealed a Band-Aid stuck to the wrapper.
THE MONTREAL EXPRESS
When the New York Mets hit a major-league-record six Opening Day homers in Montreal's Olympic Stadium, including one by Darryl Strawberry that would have traveled, by a physics professor's estimate, some 525 feet had it not struck the stadium's roof, questions about lively balls and corked bats arose immediately. That's old stuff. More intriguing is the theory that the balls were blown out by strong air currents. A windy indoor stadium? It seems that because of the large crowd of 55,413, the new air-conditioning system had to be turned on full blast. Says Expos right-fielder Hubie Brooks, "In Wrigley Field, you check the flags to see if it's going to be a pitchers' or a hitters' day. Here you check the size of the crowd."
The Kansas City Royals' Willie Wilson has played more than 10 seasons in the major leagues and has 1,637 hits. But the signature on some of his bats still reads WILLIAM 'MOOKIE' WILSON. The Toronto Blue Jays' rookie catcher, Pat Borders, shouldn't feel so bad that his bats read BOARDERS.
Southern Cal freshman second baseman Bret Boone is hitting .338 and getting closer to following father Bob and grandfather Ray into the majors. As Bret was working on making the Boones the first three-generation major league family, his dad was looking for his 100th career homer, for the California Angels. When Bob gets it, he and Ray will be the second father-son duo to have hit 100 homers each. Gus and Buddy Bell were the first.
When Graig Nettles joined Montreal, infielder Casey Candaele offered to give him his uniform number, 9, which Nettles had worn for most of his 21-year career. Nettles accepted and said, "That touched me. In Atlanta, Ozzie Virgil offered to sell me his number."
?In his 13 opening days as the Yankees' second baseman, Willie Randolph has been paired with seven different shortstops ( Bucky Dent played the position for six years). He's also played for six different managers, including Billy Martin five different times.
?Thirteen players 40 or older are in the major leagues: pitchers Tommy John ( Yankees), Steve Carlton and Joe Niekro (Twins), Don Sutton (Dodgers), Nolan Ryan ( Astros), Kent Tekulve (Phillies), Charlie Hough ( Texas) and Gene Garber ( Kansas City) and position players/designated hitters Jose Cruz ( Yankees), Graig Nettles (Expos), Bob Boone ( California), Carlton Fisk ( White Sox) and Darrell Evans (Tigers).
?With his 4-3 win last week Rangers righthander Hough has won 13 consecutive starts against the Indians.