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In Boston, Wade Boggs has been heard singing I Love L.A. and California Here I Come. In Baltimore, the Orioles are so desperate for a second baseman to replace weak-hitting Rich Dauer that they are considering the Padres' Alan Wiggins, who just finished a drug rehab program. In Toronto, where announcer Tony Kubek has passed on a number of trade rumors over the air, the game press notes recently included the following message: "With the abundance of rumors circulating about the club, the Blue Jays announced today the installation of an audio phone. Fans interested in the latest gossip concerning the club are invited to call 416-59-KUBEK."
Yes, it's that time of year again. The trade deadline is June 15, and Boggs is available because the Red Sox need pitching and because he got $1 million after arbitration last winter. The Dodgers want him but do not want to trade Orel Hershiser, a pitcher of great potential. The Orioles see an ideal leadoff man in Wiggins, who carries a four-year, $2 million contract. The Padres are in first place without Wiggins and have said he will not play for them this year.
Some other names being bandied about include Pirate lefty John Candelaria, who can start or relieve but became a 10-and-5 man last week, which makes him harder to trade; the Rangers' power-hitting Larry Parrish, who can play the outfield or third and could be had for a frontline pitcher; and the Indians' Bert Blyleven, a starter who can make a team a winner, just as former Indian Rick Sutcliffe did for the Cubs.
Before a recent game in L.A., Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda lectured the media on negativism. They had had the gall to point out that the Dodgers, who have 62 errors in their first 49 games, are thoroughly rotten fielders.
"You guys," Lasorda says, "have made them well aware of their inability to catch the ball. What they need is encouragement. It wouldn't hurt to write some nice things about them. They need to be told they're a good team." In the game that followed, the Dodgers committed three more errors.
Kirk Gibson, a former college football star who is 6'3" and 220 pounds, is one tough Tiger, as you might suspect. Would you believe he got hit in the face with a fastball from Oakland pitcher Tim Birtsas (a good friend of his) the other day and never went down, even though he needed 17 stitches to stop the bleeding? Of course you would.
But Jim Gantner, who is 5'11", 175, is one tough Brewer, and you might not have known that. Take a game last week against the Indians. Gantner was caught in a rundown between third and home when he barreled into 6'4", 225-pound pitcher Don Schulze. Schulze got the out, but he hit the ground. He got up and angrily went after Gantner, who didn't back down. They bumped, and then Schulze realized that another Brewer was heading for third. His hurried throw was wild, and the runner scored.
On May 7 the last-place Giants traded Johnnie (Disaster) LeMaster to the last-place Indians. He was supposed to play shortstop, with Julio Franco moving to second. That experiment lasted eight games before LeMaster was benched and Franco returned to short.