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Yastrzemski was in Montreal, too. He was named last week to the American League team for the 17th time in his 22-year career, and he didn't make it as a sentimental relic. "I wouldn't go if I didn't think I deserved to," he says.
He certainly deserved to. At week's end he was hitting .297, with 11 homers and 45 RBIs, though mostly as a DH, which he doesn't much like, and while playing about three-quarters of the time, which he doesn't like at all.
Last year Yastrzemski batted .246 and was obviously through at the age of 42. People thought Ted Williams was through at 41, when he batted .254. But the next season, 1960, he came back to hit .316, with 29 homers and 72 RBIs. Williams retired after that year, but Yastrzemski has shown no such inclination. In fact, he harbors a dream of playing in the majors with his son Mike, who will be a senior at Florida State next year. The way Rose is going, he may get a chance to play with Petey, age 12.
Rather than bow out gracefully after his dismal '81 performance, Yaz came into this season armed with a new, flatter stance. Much has been made of the stance, which is really a slight modification of the one he had years ago, but Yaz says the real key was something else: "I wish I was paid by the hours I put in. It may look easy to some, but it hasn't been. They're only seeing the finished product. Work. That's the name of the game." He frequently punctuates his answers with that phrase.
Despite a strong finish last year, Yastrzemski started to work on his swing on Oct. 5. "I have a machine at home that flips me the ball so I can hit it into a net. I used it to keep experimenting," he says. Yaz and Red Sox Batting Coach Walt Hriniak kept right on experimenting until the last week of spring training.
Yastrzemski isn't much for reminiscing about past glories. "Yesterday's game is totally forgotten," he says. "For me it's always 'What are you going to do tomorrow?' The only time I look back is when I review how I've done against certain pitchers."
On Sunday, coming up as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, Yaz guessed fastball on Twin Ron Davis' first pitch. Fastball it was, and he hit a shot that Centerfielder Bobby Mitchell caught. The crowd all but gave Yastrzemski a standing ovation for it. Even at his advanced age, Yaz loves fastballs, and he'll wait all day for one. "Patience," he says, "that's the name of the game."
After Sunday's 7-3 loss, he started getting ready for the trip to the All-Star Game, and teammates kept coming up and wishing him luck. "The secret to All-Star packing is to take as little as possible," he said.
"Get a hit," said Pitcher Bob Stanley.
"Sure, I'd like the three days off, and everybody moans and groans about it...."