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BASEBALL
Peter Gammons
June 13, 1988
COULD THE INDIANS BE FOR REAL THIS TIME?
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June 13, 1988

Baseball

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THE FUTURE IS NOW

As expected, University of Michigan pitcher Jim Abbott, who has one hand, was chosen in the first round of the June draft. The California Angels made him the eighth pick. Some other notable selections were Pete Rose Jr., who was passed over by Cincinnati and picked in the 12th round by Baltimore, and Mickey Rivers's son, John Mickey, a centerfielder, who was a third-round pick by the Red Sox.

One of the top power hitters in the draft was lefthand-hitting Bob Hamelin, a 6'1", 225-pound first baseman who was chosen by the Kansas City Royals in the second round. The Orioles hope that Auburn righthander Gregg Olson, the fourth player picked, will skip the Olympics and be ready for the majors by September. No sooner had the Chicago Cubs selected Georgia Tech second baseman Ty Griffin than Cubs vice-president Gordon Goldsberry speculated that Ryne Sandberg would be moved to third in 1990.

WHY VINCE CAN'T
Vince Coleman, who led the National League with 109 stolen bases last year, has worked hard to turn himself into a solid hitter (he had a .322 average through Sunday) and a good leftfielder (10 assists). "But I'm not stealing any bases," he says. "Would you have bet that if I was hitting over .300 by now that I'd only have 25 stolen bases?" Coleman is having trouble with pitchers delivering to the plate with quick, shortened strides. "Everybody's doing it now," he says. "I'm going to have to go back to my books. I may even have to get a little faster."

SIGNS OF AGE

Both Baltimore's Eddie Murray, who had only 12 extra-base hits in 54 games at week's end, and Boston's Jim Rice, with four extra-base hits and not one ball off the Green Monster, have been getting a lot of heat this year for not producing. Now 41-year-old Darrell Evans, who is coming off a 34-homer season, has begun to get flak from Detroit fans because he had only three homers and a .197 batting average through the first week of June. Evans, who has been platooning at first base, has a ready explanation for his drop-off. "Sometimes you look like you've slowed up." he says, "but it's a matter of not getting enough consistent at bats to get any feel at the plate."

Says Cubs scout Charlie Fox, "When you start to see big hitters foul balls off in the opposite direction, that means their reflexes are going." But Tigers general manager Bill Lajoie is far from convinced that Evans is done. The sign Lajoie looks for is whether a hitter is diving after pitches.

THE RIGHTY STUFF

The injury-racked Reds, who had only two homers (both by rookie Lloyd McClendon) during a recent 10-game stretch, are trying to pry rightfielder Glenn Wilson away from Seattle for Nick Esasky, while the Twins, realizing that it will be difficult to re-sign second baseman Tommy Herr, may trade him to the Philadelphia Phillies or Blue Jays for the pitching they originally hoped to get for Tom Brunansky. Toronto has also expressed interest in the Twins" disgruntled pitcher, Bert Blyleven.

Minnesota jumped too fast in the Herr-Brunansky deal for one prominent reason: righthanded power is hard to find, and Brunansky not only has power but also is a good rightfielder. "There is precious little righthanded power in the draft or in the high minors," says New York Mets scouting director Roland Johnson. "It's an off cycle, but if you get a right-handed power hitter, you'd better hold on to him."

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