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BASEBALL
Peter Gammons
April 17, 1989
THE ROSE QUESTION
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April 17, 1989

Baseball

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Five days after Ken Jr.'s debut, he watched an even more dramatic coming out—that of the Angels' one-handed pitcher, Jim Abbott, who was pitching his first major league game, against the Mariners in Anaheim. Unfortunately, it was not the 21-year-old Abbott's most memorable effort. He gave up six hits and six runs in 4⅔ innings, en route to a 7-0 loss. Of his 85 pitches, Mariner bats missed only two.

"I really didn't have my good stuff," said Abbott, in an understatement. "I was a little distracted by all the attention, and it's nice to have that out of the way. Now maybe I can look forward to just pitching."

California manager Doug Rader felt that Abbott did a "very creditable job," given the fact that he was followed everywhere he went by two dozen photographers, many of whom were from Japan, where Abbott is a hero. Rader disagreed with observers who felt Abbott's performance proved that he should have started in Double A, as was originally planned. "There was one story written that I was using Abbott to protect my butt, because I only have a one-year contract," said Rader. "Then there's talk of this being a publicity stunt. To me, all that is so incredibly distasteful. He could've pitched a perfect game, and it wouldn't have been different. He'll still have to prove himself. It's the long haul that counts."

A REAL WINNER

When the Cubs traded outfielder Rafael Palmeiro to Texas, one of the reasons they gave for doing it was that he didn't get any game-winning RBIs last year, even though he had 580 at bats. So what did Palmeiro do in his second game with the Rangers? He drove in the game-winning run in a 5-4 victory over the Tigers on an infield single to first base, which allowed centerfielder Cecil Espy to score from second. Palmeiro didn't get a GWRBI, however, because the stat, which is often meaningless, has been eliminated as an official statistic this season....

On April 3, Yankee manager Dallas Green said of reliever Rich Gossage, "The Cubs didn't want him, why do I?" Two days later general manager Syd Thrift told reporters that he had invited Gossage to come to New York for a tryout....

When the Cubs' new bullpen stopper, Mitch Williams, loaded the bases and then struck out the side on Opening Day to save a 5-4 win over the Phillies, pitcher Paul Kilgus, who came over with Williams from the Rangers, told Cubs manager Don Zimmer, "You'd better drink a lot of milk this season. Mitch is Ulcer City."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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