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Los Angeles may have limped through May with an 11-15 record, but the lineup changes it had to make because of a number of injuries may have been that old blessing in disguise. And the fact that the Dodgers held on to first place despite having five regulars on the DL at various times means the National League West is in a heap of trouble.
R.J. Reynolds, hitting .298 since his May 13 recall from Albuquerque, seems certain to play a lot of rightfield because Candy Maldonado and Terry Whitfield, who started the season sharing that position, have stopped hitting. And Franklin Stubbs, called up from Albuquerque on April 27 to replace the injured Greg Brock at first base, may stay put when Brock is ready to return because he has hit four homers, two of which won games. Brock, who drove in just 35 runs during the last four months of '83, had six homers but was hitting .205 with only 10 RBIs when he hurt his wrist. Says G.M. Al Campanis, " Brock is going to have to work like hell to get his job back. The other guy is pretty good."
Last season, when the White Sox won the American League West by 20 games and led the majors with 99 wins, they were 27-32 on June 13. So far this season the White Sox are 24-27 in a division in which only one team, California (29-25), is over .500. The Pale Hosers have 'em right where they want 'em, right? Maybe, maybe not. Everyone figured the White Sox would be doing a lot better. Some veterans said off the record in spring training that the White Sox couldn't lose.
In '84 the shortcomings have been in hitting ( Greg Luzinski, Carlton Fisk and Harold Baines have combined for 44 RBIs, or three fewer than Eddie Murray); inconsistent starting pitching; and a bullpen that is minus Dennis Lamp and Salome Barojas. Lamp took his 15 saves to Toronto as a free agent, and Barojas, who saved 12 last season, was sent to Denver last week with a 4.94 ERA.
Fisk, who has been bothered by a pulled muscle in his stomach and hasn't started since May 22, swears the team is not complacent. "If anything," he says, "the guys are trying too hard to make it happen."
The Phillies' John Denny, on the disabled list with an irritated nerve in his right elbow, must make some changes in the strenuous martial-arts program he began after the 1982 season, a regimen that helped him win the 1983 National League Cy Young Award.
According to team physician Phillip Marone, the injury was a result of "overuse, a combination of his pitching and the exercise he does." Denny, who was leading the NL with a 1.55 ERA, was drawn to martial arts by clubhouse neighbor Steve Carlton.
Denny can continue the workouts, says Marone, "but I'm asking him to modify what he does. He has some beliefs; I have some. We have to come to a point where we reach an understanding. It shall be modified. He knows what I mean by modified. You can't argue with the success of the program, but whatever hurts, he will not do."
Having been benched for two games after going 6 for 38 and floundering afield. Rod Carew had some fences to mend when he began Tuesday night's game against the Yankees in Anaheim. In the ninth inning of Carew's previous game, Angels manager John McNamara had even used a pinch hitter, righty Ron Jackson, for the seven-time American League batting champion and .331 career hitter. "This is something to tell my grandchildren about," Jackson said. (He should also tell them he died out.) Earlier in that same game, Carew had beer booed loudly after he committed his third error in two games.
In the Angels' 6-5 win over the Yankees, Carew went 2 for 3 with an RBI. saved a run with a slick fielding play and stole a run when he kicked the ball out of the glove of Yankee catcher Butch Wynegar. "I had to do something after stinking up the joint," Carew said.