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Catcher Tom Pagnozzi agrees. "Things can be taken for granted when you've played together for so long," he says.
The most immediate concern is the business of naming a new manager, which could happen by Aug. 1. Former Cardinals third baseman Joe Torre, who last managed in 1984, in Atlanta, and now works as a broadcaster on Angel telecasts, is considered the leading candidate.
Herzog, still employed by the Cardinals as an adviser, is keeping a low profile. He spends much of his time fishing or sitting by the pool and is said to be interested in running one of the National League's two expansion teams in 1993. After watching this year's Cards, he should find the level of play about the same.
A catcher's proficiency in throwing out potential base stealers is not kept as an official statistic because so many pitchers are terrible at holding runners on base. But Baltimore righthander Dave Johnson is another story. As of Sunday, no runner had stolen a base against him in any of his 33 starts as a major leaguer. In his 19 starts this year no one had even attempted a steal. By comparison, in the last 33 starts made by righthander Mike Scott of the Astros, opponents had stolen 51 bases in 57 tries.
Johnson, 30, a career minor leaguer until last season, doesn't pretend to have the kind of stuff Scott has. That's why last year he took the advice of Dick Bosman, his Triple A pitching coach at Rochester, and developed a quirky stretch position. "It's ugly, and it isn't comfortable, but it does the job," says Johnson, whose fastball reaches only the low 80's and who gives up more hits than innings pitched.
Still, he had an 8-6 record at week's end. "When I'm set, I can see first base," says Johnson. "Most pitchers look over there, but they can't see the runner. I can. At the same time, I'm ready to throw home. People ask, 'Couldn't you get more power another way?' I could, but as far as I'm concerned, the slower [my pitches are], the better."
Johnson's ability to trick hitters, and to keep them from stealing, is the main reason he goes by a familiar nickname: Magic Johnson.
Rangers first baseman-outfielder Jack Daugherty is a great testament to the power of perseverance. "Some guys sign for $100,000 and move up quickly," says the 30-year-old Daugherty, who through Sunday was batting .317. "I was the complete antithesis of that. I was Casper Your Friendly First Baseman. Totally invisible."