- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Controversial Cuban Outfielder Barbaro Garbey (SI, June 13), who was hitting .341 for Evansville of the American Association, was suspended last week for hitting a spectator with a bat. The incident took place after a 10-inning, 5-3 loss to Louisville. It was precipitated when the fan heckled Garbey, who'd been moved to third base in the 10th, for missing a wild throw from Pitcher Dave Rucker, who had fielded a bunt.
Evansville General Manager Chuck Murphy said, "Barbaro said the fan shouted, 'Hey, Garbey, how much did you get for that one?' He said the fan stayed on him and made remarks about Barbara's wife and family. That's what got him mad." After the game Garbey went to the clubhouse, got a fungo bat and waited outside the park for the heckler. Following a verbal exchange, Garbey hit the fan across the shoulder.
John Johnson, president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, had put Garbey on probation on May 27 after Garbey admitted to having "shaved" runs in 1978 while playing in the Cuban major league.... The Brewers signed free-agent Pitcher Juan Nieves, the most prized high school player in the land (SI, May 9), to a six-figure bonus that his agent said was the highest given any amateur this year. Nieves, who didn't go through last month's amateur draft because he was born in Puerto Rico, was assigned to Milwaukee's Beloit, Wis. farm club in the Class A Midwest League.
All-Star Manager Whitey Herzog of St. Louis agreed with the fans on only two of their eight starting choices for the National League team. Herzog concurred on outfielders Andre Dawson and Dale Murphy but preferred his own outfielder, George Hendrick, over Tim Raines, First Baseman Darrell Evans over Al Oliver, Second Baseman Glenn Hubbard over Steve Sax, Shortstop Dickie Thon over his own Ozzie Smith, Third Baseman Pedro Guerrero or Bill Madlock over Mike Schmidt and Catcher Terry Kennedy over Gary Carter.
Houston's Thon, who had hit all of three home runs in 914 trips to the plate in the past four seasons, walloped his ninth and 10th this year to defeat Atlanta 4-3. Thon, by the way, weighs 170 pounds, not the 150 shown on the Astros' roster.... Atlanta's Brett Butler, who hadn't homered in 581 at bats since coming to the majors in 1981, cleared the fence on successive days. Butler's first blast made a 2-1 loser of Cincinnati's Mario Soto, who has a bad habit of allowing homers to banjo hitters. The Braves' other run that day came on a homer by Rafael Ramirez, who'd had one in 288 at bats this season.... Philadelphia's Schmidt, whose .181 hitting since May 7 had dragged his average down to .241, benched himself for a game last Wednesday. "I've got to get myself calmed down, get back to having fun playing," Schmidt said. "I'd call myself a very mediocre ballplayer right now."
"If they want to fill the stadium, they should have an I Don't Like Dick Wagner Night," says Marge Schott, a minority owner of the hapless Reds, about the club's general manager. When asked if she'd be at Riverfront Stadium for such an affair, the outspoken Schott said, "I don't think I'd be able to get in."
Baltimore's Ken Singleton, who for years had been one of the best switch hitters in baseball, was woeful from the right side of the plate in '82: a .177 average and six extra-base hits, none a homer. After learning during the off-season that his right arm was 18% weaker than his left, Singleton worked hard to strengthen and quicken his right hand. At the end of last week Singleton was hitting better as a righthander (.299) than as a lefthander (.265), with four doubles, two triples and one homer as a righty.
Dodger Third Baseman Pedro Guerrero has had his share of controversy recently. First he angered the Padres, who had swept four games in L.A., by saying, "They aren't going anywhere. They just caught us at a bad time." Then Guerrero apparently tried to trip San Diego's Juan Bonilla as he rounded third en route to scoring in the last of the ninth to beat the Dodgers 7-6. Guerrero denied trying to upend Bonilla, but Third Base Umpire Charlie Williams was ready to call the runner safe if he'd been tagged out at home. Guerrero also got into a tiff with Houston's Frank LaCorte, charging the mound with other Dodgers when they felt LaCorte was throwing at L.A.'s Ken Landreaux. "He's in trouble," Guerrero said afterward. "I don't like him, and I'm going to hate him more and more. I never forget anything like that."...After-a hot start, rookie Greg Brock, who replaced Steve Garvey at first base for the Dodgers this season, hit .181 between May 18 and last Sunday, with only two homers and seven RBIs. "He has too many holes," says one National League coach. "He can't hit the breaking ball, and he can't handle the fastball up and the fastball in. All he can really handle is the fastball down." Garvey? He had 14 home runs, 49 RBIs and a .294 average for the Padres.
Rene Lachemann, fired two weeks ago as manager of the Mariners, is drawing a lot of interest. While Lachemann and his wife sit behind home plate at Mariner games, long lines of autograph seekers and well-wishers gather around. Officials from at least a dozen other teams also are queuing up to offer Lachemann jobs or ask about his plans. Those most interested in landing him as manager are said to be the Brewers and Mets.
Fourteen months after undergoing rotator cuff surgery, Shortstop Rick Burleson returned to the Angel lineup on June 30. In his first four games back he was 7 for 13 and didn't commit an error. During his 14-game get-in-shape stint with AAA Edmonton he batted .196 and made three errors.... Baltimore, displeased with rookie Leo Hernandez' .246 average and 13 errors in 64 games, made another attempt to settle its third-base troubles by sending Hernandez back to the minors, purchasing Todd Cruz from Seattle and putting him at the hot corner.... Before going 3 for 10 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Shortstop Ozzie Smith of the Cardinals had been 0 for 29 and 14 for 106 to drop his average to .188.... There's no hitting 'em out of Minnesota's Metrodome, but Randy Bush of the Twins did become the first player to hit a ball off the Teflon-coated fiber-glass ceiling. According to the ground rules at the two-year-old stadium, the ball was still in play, and it was caught on the fly in foul territory by Blue Jay Catcher Buck Martinez.