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Morgan on Morgan: "I felt old, and I thought about quitting. I lifted weights before I went back to Houston and picked up a lot of bulk, and I felt sluggish. I was up to 176, 177 pounds, and I'd slowed down at bat and in the field. At San Francisco, Frank Robinson suggested I lose eight pounds. I felt good, and I lost six more. Everything was back to normal again, and I want to lose a few more pounds before the season starts, get down to 160."
Paul Owens, the Phillies' general manager, wouldn't have wanted Morgan two years ago. "We really thought he was over the hill," Owens says, "but I read reports on him last season that said he was quick at the bat and showing more range in the field. I was at Candlestick Park one day, walking toward the clubhouse, when I ran into him. I said, 'Joe, you look terrific' He said, 'It's funny, but for four years people have been telling me to lose weight. It took me a while to wake up.' "
"He looks 25," says Corrales, and in fact Morgan does look great. "We've got some amazing bodies on this team," says Gus Hoefling, the strength, flexibility and kung fu coach of the Phillies, "and Morgan's is right in there. I've got this special five-step sit-up I make the guys do, and some players can't do five. First day, Morgan cranked out 25."
The Phillies aren't fooling themselves that Morgan can take Trillo's place defensively, but they know they'll get more offense with him. He and Hayes give Philadelphia two lefthanded bats it didn't have before. "We got righthanded to death last year," says Owens. Morgan is also holding the fort until Juan Samuel, a heralded 21-year-old second baseman from the Dominican Republic, is ready.
Owens tried to get Perez from Boston last year—Rose says he had suggested it—but the Red Sox wanted one young prospect too many. At the end of the season, Boston didn't exercise its right to renew his contract, and the Phillies called. Perez received a few other offers, but he wanted Philadelphia all along and signed on Jan. 31.
Perez, who got the name Dog back in 1963—"Lee May gave it to me because I looked like a mean, angry, grrr, dog when I stared at the pitcher"—did well in a limited role for the Red Sox in '81 and '82, and he's only three seasons removed from a 25-homer, 125-RBI performance. The same rumors follow him that follow Luis Tiant; estimates of his age run as high as 45. He's also a bit overweight at 220, and he's aware of that. "But I know I can still swing the bat," he says. He certainly showed that in the intrasquad game.
Rose is trying to come back from a .271 average in 1982, the second lowest of his career. Morgan believes he can help Rose. "I know Pete as well as I know anybody," says Morgan. "I know when to kick him in the rear, and I know when to pat him on the back. People don't think he needs that stuff anymore, but he does." The two of them are like kids rolling around together when they do their calisthenics.
The most frequent suggestion as to how Rose might raise his average—take a break every once in a while—doesn't sit well with him. "I'll rest plenty when I'm dead," he says. "They didn't talk about resting me in '74 when I hit .284 or three years ago when I hit .282 and we won the world championship. I came back and hit .325 the next season. I know I'm the one who hit .271 last year, but it was kind of a luckless year for me. I was up 634 times, and I struck out 32, same as always, so doesn't that tell you something? Pitching was better all around the National League last year, too."
Rose takes so much pride in his ability to play every day that he refuses to use physical excuses. He played the last month and a half of the '82 season on a sore right heel, but all he says is, "What am I supposed to do, sit out the pennant race?
"You know what bothers me? Air conditioning, that's what. You come in for a rain delay, and the clubhouse is air-conditioned, and your muscles get tight. The tunnels are air-conditioned, everything's air-conditioned. No wonder I get stiff."