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BASEBALL
Peter Gammons
April 24, 1989
TAKING WING
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April 24, 1989

Baseball

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Remember Chris Pittaro? In 1985 Detroit manager Sparky Anderson dubbed him the Tigers' new third baseman, calling him "the best infield prospect I've had come through camp in 15 years." Pittaro went 15 for 62 in 28 games for the Tigers that season, was replaced by Tom Brookens and then was unloaded on the Twins.

Now Sparky has a new discovery, Torey Lovullo, who could make Pittaro look like Mike Schmidt. Lovullo hit .232 for Toledo last year, but Anderson fell in love with him during spring training and persuaded the Tigers to trade Brookens to the Yankees to make room for Lovullo at third base. Then Anderson moved Lovullo to first, a position he had never played before, promised him 500 at bats and told first basemen Dave Bergman and Keith Moreland they weren't going to get much playing time. Lovullo responded by going 0 for 20 at the start of the season and contributing to the first two runs scored against the Tigers this year when a shot down the line glanced off his glove and went for a double.

Before Opening Day, Anderson told reporters that he was planning to turn the team over by 1991 and that "experience don't mean nothin'." It was the wrong thing to say to a team, that had lost two of its most popular veterans: Brookens and designated hitter-first baseman Darrell Evans, who was signed by the Braves as a free agent. "Whatever we accomplish will have to be done through communication," says pitcher Frank Tanana. "There has to be a tremendous pulling together, as there was in '87. The veterans have to pull for the young players. That is vital to the welfare of this team."

Pitching ace Jack Morris was more emphatic. After taping Anderson's "experience" quote over his locker, Morris said, "Attitude is the only ingredient that will keep us competitive."

WALKING WOUNDED

There's a sign hanging over the door to the trainer's room in Three Rivers Stadium that reads: MASH 4077. That's because, as of Sunday, the Pirates had four players on the disabled list: bullpen stopper Jim Gott, first baseman Sid Bream, catcher Mike LaValliere and utilityman Benny Distefano. Earlier in the season, outfielder Gary Redus and pitcher Brian Fisher were also on the list, which means that if the Pirates lose one more player they will match their total for the '88 season....

As soon as the news broke that the Athletics' first baseman Mark McGwire had been put on the 15-day disabled list because of a herniated disc, several teams called the A's, offering them veteran hitters for their 11th pitcher, Todd Burns. But manager Tony La Russa says, "We figure pitching is our key, and it will have to carry us. We won't break up our pitching to make a stopgap trade."

...Through April 13, Mets third baseman Howard Johnson, who had shoulder surgery in the off-season, was 1 for 6 in completing throws to first....

When Cleveland righthander John Farrell made his first start on April 16, it didn't concern the Indians that he gave up three runs to the Brewers and tired in the fifth inning. What mattered was that he threw hard; Farrell has been plagued with arm trouble since early March. "If we have Farrell, Greg Swindell and Tom Candiotti healthy, we have frontline horses that can compete with anyone in the division," says manager Doc Edwards. " Swindell can win 20, the other two are 16-to 18-game winners. Who else in the East has a threesome like that?"

BAMBINO REDUX?

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