The Natural is playing leftfield for the Phillies and his name is Jeff Stone. He is a 23-year-old blur from the tiny town of Kennett, Mo. in the Ozark Mountains, and he never used indoor plumbing until he reported to the Phillies' minor league complex in Bend, Ore. in 1980.
Stone, who was called up from Class AAA Portland last week after Joe Lefebvre went on the DL with torn cartilage and ligaments in his right knee, stole 307 bases in three previous seasons in the bushes. Before he was signed in 1979 as an undrafted free agent, Stone told the Phillies that all he wanted was $500 and a handshake with Pete Rose. He got two grand, a car ride to a Phils game in St. Louis and the handshake.
After five years in pro ball, Stone still hasn't lost his innocence. To wit:
?When he arrived in Venezuela for winter ball, he asked, "Is this the same moon that shines at home?"
?When asked one day if he wanted a shrimp cocktail, he said, "No thanks, I don't drink."
?And when he went 0-4 at Shea Stadium in his first game with the Phillies after having taken a red-eye flight from Portland, he said, "I have jet legs."
As expected, two teams in the American League were sold last week. On Friday night in Minneapolis, Calvin Griffith signed a letter of intent to sell 52% of the Twins to Carl Pohlad, a local banker. The-Twins had been the last family operation in the game, but Calvin, who is 72, will work in the front office, most likely as an evaluator of young talent. That was always his forte. And David LeFevre, a New York lawyer born and raised in Cleveland, bought controlling interest in the woebegone Indians.
Rookie Gerald Perry is on the verge of moving Chris Chambliss from first base to the Braves' bench.... Steve Garvey was moved out of the Padres' cleanup spot after driving in only 11 of 30 runners from third base with less than two out.... After a hot start, Kevin McReynolds, another Padre muscleman, has three RBIs in his last 52 at bats and 15 in his last 148, an ominous stat for a player in his first full year in the bigs.... The two best players in the NL this year? A pair of Cubs—Ryne Sandberg and Leon Durham—according to Cardinal manager Whitey Herzog.... While the Cubs were losing six of seven games recently, their only winner was ex-Indian Rick Sutcliffe, the new starter in town.... When the Phillies' Jerry Koosman beat the Mets, his first team, last week, it gave the 41-year-old lefty a win over every club in the National League.... The Giants' Johnny LeMaster complained loud and long when he was dropped from the leadoff spot, and he's hitting .282 (22-78) since being moved back to the top spot. Look for him to finish the season hitting his usual sub .250.... Pedro Guerrero, a big bopper, has only 26 RBIs, and that's almost as big a reason for the Dodgers' struggles as their long injury list. Greg Brock, an early-season flash in '83, is batting .224 and in danger of losing his first base job to Franklin Stubbs, who was called up from Albuquerque last week for the second time this year. L.A. made room for Stubbs by waiving veteran Rick Monday.... The Dodgers are also doing a bad job of stealing bases—47 in 91 attempts.
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