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Baseball
Tim Kurkjian
April 26, 1993
JUICE UP THE ARMS
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April 26, 1993

Baseball

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?The Blue Jays' Jack Morris, a 21-game winner last year, pitched a total of 11 innings in three starts this season, allowing 29 hits and 21 earned runs (17.18 ERA).

?The Orioles' Fernando Valenzuela, starting a major league game for the first time since June 1991, was horrible in an 8-3 loss to the Rangers on April 13. He allowed five hits and six earned runs, walked two, hit a batter, threw two wild pitches and made a throwing error in 2? innings. His fastball was clocked between 78 and 80 mph, and his screwball wasn't working. Texas batters swung and missed on only three of Valenzuela's 62 pitches.

But don't tell the Braves and the Reds—who were expected to be two of the National League's most potent lineups—that the pitching is bad or that the ball is juiced. In nine games from April 9 to 17, Atlanta scored just 13 runs. The Braves' starting lineup for last Saturday's game was made up of players hitting .200, .186, .341, .179, .150, .125, .174, .152 and .250. The Reds (3-9 through Sunday) had scored only 33 runs in their first 12 games.

HALL MATERIAL

Last Thursday, Red Sox outfielder Andre Dawson hit his 400th career home run, becoming the 25th player in history to reach that plateau. Is he a Hall of Famer? Yes. Based on his career stats alone, Dawson deserves to be voted into the Hall one day: .282 average, 1,433 RBIs, 310 stolen bases, eight Gold Gloves (and a great throwing arm), eight times selected to the All-Star team, and National League Rookie of the Year (1977) and Most Valuable Player ('87) awards. He has had 50 or more extra-base hits in a season 13 times, a feat surpassed in National League history by only Hank Aaron (18 times) and Stan Musial (16). Also, Dawson and Willie Mays are the only players in history to hit 400 homers and steal 300 bases.

But Dawson's career has been about a lot more than numbers. He is a leader, the consummate professional on and off the field for almost 20 years. That should count for something.

ROYAL HOT SEAT
It's only a matter of time before the Royals fire manager Hal McRae. Kansas City, which lost 16 of its first 17 games last season, was 3-9 through Sunday, having scored three or fewer runs in seven of 12 games. He hasn't been a good manager, he hasn't enjoyed the job, he doesn't communicate well with players, and he's uncomfortable managing his son Brian, Kansas City's centerfielder. McRae wants to return to being a hitting coach, which is the job he does best. This would be a firing that would make everyone happy.

SHORT HOPS

One American League owner says he doesn't expect a new commissioner to be named until December. Some owners don't want a commissioner until then because he might interfere with the ongoing labor negotiations with the players. "Some of us are looking for a marketing man to be the next commissioner," the owner says. "But I think we need a leader first. Anything to do with marketing will be tossed out the window if we don't get the labor issue settled." ...The first two five-hit games this season were by second basemen: Expo Mike Lansing and Padre Tim Teufel. Last year Lansing played in Double A ( Harrisburg, Pa.), but he made it onto the big club as a backup shortstop. When Montreal second baseman Delino DeShields missed almost two weeks with the chicken pox, Lansing filled in at second, hit three homers and drove in 10 runs.... This spring Dodger catcher Mike Piazza got a tip from Marlin catcher Benito Santiago on how to quicken his release on throws to cut down base stealers. Through Sunday, Piazza had thrown out 11 of 15 runners attempting to steal.

Minor League Note of the Week: Dave LaPoint, 33, who didn't play last year because of personal problems, is pitching for the Twins' Triple A affiliate in Portland, Ore., the ninth minor league stop in his career. He also has pitched for nine major league teams, the last having been the 1991 Phillies. If he's recalled by the Twins and starts a game for them, LaPoint will become the first pitcher who played his entire career in this century to start games for 10 different big league teams.

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