On Aug. 30, 1983, Detroit's Dan Petry hit Twins slugger Gary Ward in the face with a fastball. Six days later Ward returned to the lineup and went 4 for 4. But for the rest of the season Ward hit no homers and drove in only seven runs in 84 at bats.
Last December Ward was traded to the Rangers for pitchers Mike Smithson and John Butcher. While the two new Twins prospered. Ward continued to struggle. "I wasn't ever afraid of getting hit again, but I was making damn sure that I wasn't, and maybe that had something to do with the first half I had," says Ward, who in the last six weeks has raised his average 52 points to .271 and doubled his home run total to 16.
"I wasn't going to let the ball hit me again, no matter what," he says. "Whenever I thought it was going to be close, I was down. But now when they throw the ball up and in, they better not throw the next one for a strike."
Detroit's Jack Morris leads the AL with 17 wins. He may also be leading the majors in another category: teammates and coaches ticked off. Earlier this season pitching coach Roger Craig knocked Morris for losing his temper on the mound. Recently Kirk Gibson knocked Morris for pouting after a come-from-be-hind Tiger win in which Morris had pitched badly and didn't get the W.
Last Thursday night in Seattle, Lance Parrish, Morris's catcher, took his turn. It seems that Morris, cursing himself because his eighth-inning throwing error let in the go-ahead run, didn't back up home as the play continued. When Gibson's return throw from right sailed over Parish's head, no one was there to keep another run from scoring. Oops! When the Tigers scored in the ninth, Morris's faux pas became Seattle's winning run.
"I think it [ Morris's behavior] reflects on the whole team," Parrish said. "That's why it's as——as it is. It has an effect on the rest of the club."
Parrish also said he won't go to the mound to talk to Morris when the pitcher gets upset. "It's not my job to go out and reprimand Jack every time he acts like he shouldn't. He's a big boy. The coaching staff thinks I shouldn't go."
It's that time of year again. Managers are being replaced or, worse, given a vote of confidence. Even general managers are biting the dust.
Bill Virdon, who said he was going to retire at the end of the season anyway, was replaced as Expos manager by his immediate predecessor, Jim Fanning, the team's vice-president of player development. Fanning is expected to serve only until the end of the season. The leading candidates to succeed him are former big league managers Steve Boros and Buck Rodgers.
Seattle manager Del Crandall got the ax last week, too. According to one West Coast source, earlier this season the Mariners discussed the manager's job with Steve Greenberg, an agent and former minor league player and the son of Hank Greenberg. Greenberg wasn't interested. Third base coach Chuck Cottier is the interim manager.