Quisenberry had to preserve Gura's 15th victory because the starter had pulled a groin muscle in the first inning and couldn't continue past the seventh. Gura, who is working toward a green belt in tae kwon do, took some ribbing from his teammates because he has complained about their sorry physical states. "Who knows?" he said. "Maybe if I wasn't in such good shape, the pull would've been a tear."
After the game Thursday night, M*A*S*H was preempted by Kansas City's version of Hill Street Blues. Howser was a passenger in a Datsun driven by Coach Rocky Colavito when it was struck by a Volkswagen as they were leaving the stadium parking lot at about 11 p.m. Colavito left the car to argue with the driver, David L. Roach. Police officer Michael Paschal, who was directing traffic, stepped between them and, according to the police report, was pushed by Colavito. When a second officer, Roy Callahan, stepped in, police say, Howser jumped on his back. The manager has told friends he didn't. More cops arrived, and one squad car was damaged when it hit another vehicle.
Howser and Colavito were handcuffed and taken to the city jail, where they were fingerprinted, photographed and released on their own recognizance. They were charged with hindering and interfering with police and ordered to appear in municipal court Sept. 14. The Royals play the Mariners that night.
On Friday Brett cheerfully popped into Howser's office and said, "Say, Skip, can I have a ride home tonight?" Howser, who had some abrasions on his forehead from the accident, and Colavito, who had some bruises, wouldn't reveal any details of their fracas. But the fans in rightfield displayed a banner that read ROCKY IV. And after Howser was given a stereo cassette player for being a guest on a radio show, he said, "This should come in handy at Leavenworth."
On Saturday Colavito was standing behind the batting cage watching his 14-year-old son Steve hit when a foul ball off Steve's bat struck Rocky on the bridge of the nose. "Poor Rocky," said Wilson. "Bad luck must have come walking up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'Hey, Rock....' "
Blue was supposed to pitch on Saturday, but he had strained his back on Thursday trying to lift a home gymnasium set. "I should've bent my knees," said Blue. Said Black, who replaced him, "I feel like a freak. I haven't been hurt yet."
The Royals' problems really began in the off-season. Mike Jones, who was supposed to be their third starter behind Gura and Dennis Leonard, dislocated the fourth and fifth vertebrae in his neck in an auto accident and was out for the season. That's why Kansas City had to trade pitchers Renie Martin and Atlee Ham-maker and a minor-leaguer to pry Blue and a minor-leaguer from San Francisco.
With 11 days to go before the season opener, Wilson pulled his left hamstring. He tried to play opening day, missed the next eight games, tried again on April 19 and ended up missing another 16 games.
The most telling blow occurred on May 21 when Leonard, who had already missed a start because of a sprained ankle, stopped a line drive by the Rangers' Buddy Bell and broke the index and middle fingers of his pitching hand. Specifically, he suffered an undisplaced fracture of the proximal inner phalangeal joint of the index finger and a "fracture dislocation" of the PIP joint of his middle finger. He had a pin in his middle finger for 10 days and some wire in it for three weeks. Full recovery took about 11 weeks, three longer than expected and Leonard missed 16 starts. On Friday he made his third start since coming off the disabled list, getting the win in a 13-5 rout of the White Sox.
On July 5 Catcher John Wathan fouled a pitch from Boston's Bruce Hurst off his left ankle. He caught the next inning, but felt he might have broken something. In fact, he had fractured the medial malleolus of the ankle. He wore a boot cast for four weeks. The Duke had a shoemaker near his Blue Springs, Mo. home build a special sneaker for his other foot to keep his pelvis level. "The sneaker made me six-foot-five," says Wathan, who's 6'2". "I was ready for the NBA." He was also ready to play in less than six weeks, a week earlier than expected.