"When I got
back to the States I found out that a lot of important people with the Indians
didn't know how well I'd done in Venezuela, didn't even know I'd gone, in
fact," says Rhomberg. "Then when Mr. Quinn called me to his hotel suite
in Tucson on the last day of spring training and asked me to go back to
Chattanooga to learn another new position, I felt pretty low. I called Denice,
and she said it flat out, 'Quit, Kevin. You're too old and we're too old.
You're never going to make it.' I told her that this would be my last chance,
that if we weren't drawing a major league salary by the time I was 26, I'd
what he said, instructing his agent to add a clause to his contract stating, in
essence, that if either Cleveland or Rhomberg is unhappy with the situation on
Sept. 1, Rhomberg can negotiate his own deal with another club. Quinn has
already assured Rhomberg and his agent that this is a clause they won't have to
has suited up in an Indian uniform—if only for a half hour in spring training.
On that memorable day the major league B team was on the road, and Quinn asked
Rhomberg if he would like a chance to play the last three innings of a game
against the Angels. As fate would have it, Rhomberg's dad was in the stands, so
Kevin got dressed in record time.
"It was a real
Cleveland uniform," Rhomberg recalls. "No number on the back, of
course, but from the front I looked like a genuine major-leaguer. Then in the
eighth inning one of the coaches walked out to the bullpen where I was
loosening up and said I could go shower—the Angels had decided to cancel the
rest of the game."
Rhomberg has a pet
phrase that he uses to describe his predicament, both with the Indians and in
regard to his pursuit of .400. "If you live by the iffies, you'll die by
the iffies," he says. "If I hit .400, fine. But that's not nearly as
important to me as improving my fielding [he has made only two errors in the
last five weeks] and taking good cuts at the plate."
In the event that
Rhomberg does hit .400, he will be the first professional player to do this in
a U.S. league in more than 100 games since Jim McAnany of Colorado Springs
batted .400 in 1958 in the Western League. It's hard to imagine his achieving
something that eluded both Rod Carew and George Brett in recent years. But
considering everything else he has overcome he just might pull it off.