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INSIDE PITCH
Herm Weiskopf
April 25, 1983
While bouncing from the Mets to the Rangers to the Yankees to the Pirates, Centerfielder Lee Mazzilli has carried a "bad arm" tag. Just how bad was evident during 4-3 and 9-1 Pittsburgh losses last week to the Cardinals. On four occasions, Redbirds took an extra base against Mazzilli that they might not even have attempted against another center-fielder. Three times the perpetrator was Keith Hernandez, who's hardly a whippet on the bases. In the 10th inning of the first game, he tagged up on a shallow fly to center and scored the winning run. Says Hernandez: "Mazzilli's the only guy I would attempt to score against [on such a play] in the big leagues."
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April 25, 1983

Inside Pitch

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Slugging Outfielder Darryl Strawberry is in Triple A ball right now, but the Mets are sure he'll be their Mr. Excitement in the near future. Strawberry, though, came across more like a huckleberry on his first date with Southern Cal basketball All-America Paula McGee, to whom he was recently engaged.

"We met when we helped at the Special Olympics at Compton College in 1981," Strawberry says. "She didn't know anything about me as a baseball player, which was nice. She called me for our first date." That date began with Strawberry watching McGee play basketball for the first time, after which he took her to dinner. "Then we went to my parents' house and she fell asleep on my lap," says Strawberry.

"He's the best hit-and-run man I've ever seen," said Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson after John Wockenfuss came through with an H&R single during a 13-2 rout of the Yankees. "I must have an average of .700 or .800 on the hit-and-run," Wockenfuss said. "People have pitched out and I've still done it."

Last year Atlanta opened the season with 13 straight wins. This year the Braves lost their opener and won the next seven, proving, as the many critics who thought Atlanta's '82 division title was a fluke had suspected, the Braves couldn't get off to a blazing start again.... The Astros were on the verge of a modern NL record for start-of-season defeats when they lost their first nine games and fell behind 6-0 against Montreal in the sixth inning of the 10th game. But while Expo (and former Houston) Manager Bill Virdon looked on in dismay, the Astros battled back to win 7-6 in 10 innings. That left Houston merely tied for the record with three other teams.

When Mike Ferraro was named last fall to follow Dave Garcia as the new Cleveland manager, many of his players hoped he'd be firmer with the umpires than was his easygoing predecessor, who rarely left the dugout to challenge umps. Ferraro is. Last week he followed another Garcia—umpire Rich—while berating him for calling an Indian out on a close play at first base.

George Brett of the Royals believes that topspin will prevent a tailspin. That's why he chatted with Boston's Wade Boggs, a .349 hitter last year, who is adept at using his top hand to produce topspin on a batted ball. Brett, who was hitting .429 at week's end, attributed "the best start of my career" largely to "getting this additional topspin, which has gotten balls through the infield quickly. That's the difference between hitting .300 and .220." Boggs, who has bettered .300 for six straight years in the majors and minors and who was at .396 on Sunday, calls himself a "born hitter."

Oakland President Roy Eisenhardt gave Third Baseman Carney Lansford permission to remain away from the A's "as long as he wishes" after Lansford's 2-year-old son, Nicholas, died of a rare kidney disease.... Tim Lollar of the Padres hasn't had his best fastball or slider yet, causing worry that his arm may have worn down from pitching 233? innings last season. He was scheduled to see a doctor this week and is expected to miss at least one start.... The Giants, who've taken heat for dealing Al Holland and Joe Morgan to the Phillies for righthander Mike Krukow, felt the temperature go higher when they had to put Krukow on the disabled list because of an inflamed right elbow.

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