The real Comeback of the Year player started the season as a full-time stockbroker and a part-time scout for the Brewers. He didn't throw a pitch in the major leagues until last Wednesday when he pitched one-third of an inning against the Red Sox. Paul Hartzell, who is 27-38 lifetime, had last pitched in the majors in 1981, when he hurt his arm and retired. He thought.
When the stockbroking business took him to Phoenix this spring, Hartzell visited the Brewers' minor league camp in Peoria, Ariz. "I was standing around," he says. "I guess I looked bored." Somebody suggested he throw BR "A couple of guys said, 'Your ball's really moving.' I said, 'So what?' "
So Hartzell ended up pitching for the Brewers' Class A Stockton team on a five-game trial. He went home after going 0-1, but a month later the Brewers called and asked if he wanted to go to El Paso in Class AA.
Off he went. He was 2-2 with a 1.37 ERA there and then 5-1 with a 2.91 ERA at Vancouver (AAA). And when the Brewers expanded their roster Sept. 1, the Comeback Kid was back.
Bruce Sutter, who set a National League save record last week, very politely declines to discuss his impending free agency. Of course, his numbers—40 saves and a 1.37 ERA—do a lot of talking.
So where will Sutter go for his millions? Well, St. Louis is still a possibility, even though Sutter will almost certainly enter the free-agent draft in November. You can be sure the Blue Jays, who could be the best team in baseball with a stopper, will go after Sutter as furiously as they did Goose Gossage last year. But a little birdie says that Sutter, like many players, wouldn't be comfortable playing and living in a different country.
Our little birdie also says Sutter would look favorably on Philadelphia or Baltimore because they're closest to his Lancaster, Pa. home. The Phils are the more likely to be interested because the O's need hitting and will chase Indian DH Andre Thornton.
Other possibilities? The Angels, who always need a stopper, and the White Sox. The Yankees? George Steinbrenner could decide to pursue Sutter and return Dave Righetti to the rotation, but New York just isn't Sutter's kind of town. It doesn't suit his low-key lifestyle.
In 1983 the White Sox went 99-63 and won the American League West by a record-setting 20 games. In 1984 they've been the biggest disappointment in baseball, even if they do have a slight chance to repeat.
"After what we did last year, a lot of guys are having a hard time believing we're still in the middle of a pennant race," says catcher Carlton Fisk. He believes the Sox can still win if they forget their record (65-76) and pay attention to the standings (Chicago is seven back with 20 games to play).
This may not be an easy thing for the White Sox players to do, though. Oakland's Bill Almon says that his former Chicago teammates have "a real chance, but there's no enthusiasm, no life. You get the feeling they're playing out the string."
Now that Steve Howe seems to have his priorities straight, he wonders if he'll ever pitch in the majors again. Howe, who was suspended for the '84 season for his repeated involvement with cocaine, was to report to the Dodgers' Instructional League team Sept. 10.
"I'll give it five weeks in Arizona; then I'll decide," says Howe, who sold cars for a living this summer. "The reason for perhaps not coming back is simply this: My No. 1 priority is my recovery, not baseball, not money, not prestige. Other times when I went through rehabilitation, baseball was my priority.
"Is it worth my sanity? I have a good job right now. I have a family I love. I don't have to play baseball to live a happy life. That's something I learned this year." Amen.
The young Twins finally found out they were in a pennant race. They lost 12 of 17 to fall a game behind the Royals last week because they didn't hit a lick: .216 for the 17 games. During the slide, the offense consisted of 96 singles, 15 doubles, one triple, nine homers and 42 runs.... The Angels, meanwhile, closed to within 1½ games of the first-place Royals because they started hitting. Fred Lynn had the hottest bat, getting 14 RBIs in an eight-game stretch. Even Dick Schofield Jr. got into the act. Two days after being fitted with glasses, Schofield, hitting .192, got his first two RBIs since June 30.... If you're wondering what happened to all those gloves that used to dangle out of Mel Hall's back pocket, the Indian outfielder had to stuff them. Seems an umpire would have to call a hit batter if a pitch nicked one of them.... Ranger rookie shortstop Jeff Kunkel, the ump's son and Texas's 1983 No. 1 draft choice, was sent to the bench last week for some R and R after hitting .205 with 33 strikeouts, no walks and 13 errors in the 37 games since he was moved up from Triple A.
The Cubs' Steve Trout, a major-leaguer at 21, spent his first six years in the big leagues as a walking stereotype—flaky lefthander. He had a live left arm but not a lot of maturity, which is one reason he had a 47-54 lifetime record going into this season. "I had a lot of fun," he says, "but this is a serious business. I knew that then, but I didn't know the depth of it."
He seems to have found out with the help of his pitching coach, Billy Connors, whom Trout calls his "avatar." To help Trout, who is 12-6, Connors did something simple: He read Trout the riot act when the pitcher visited him in Florida last winter.
"Things were at the point," Connors says, "where I had to tell him, 'Rainbow, you can't go on like this. You work hard one day; then you slack off. Do you want to be a clown or a guy who makes some money for his family? I'll put out 110 percent for you, but if you don't want to do the same, go back home.'
"The way I look at it," Connors says, "everybody needs somebody to care for them. I know. When I played I was that bleep pitcher nobody ever talked to."
The Padres, breezing to their first West Division championship, have already broken their home attendance record by drawing 1,747,845 fans, but Goose Gossage isn't impressed. "It makes you wonder if there should be a franchise here," Gossage said Thursday afternoon after only 11,986 people witnessed a 10-3 loss to the Reds. "It's really kind of shocking to me. You'd think that having a team that's never won before would make the fans that much more excited. And you can't tell me there's much to do here. There isn't. You want to go to the beach every day? That's fine. Go ahead. Other than that, what else is there to do?"
Now an opinion from Reds' player-manager Pete Rose: "We're 22 games out; it was 115 degrees in the shade today; and this city is surrounded by beaches, some of 'em nude beaches. Why would they sit here in the ball park and see ballplayers in uniform when they can see people in the nude?"
Don't invite White Sox righty Rich Dot-son and any of the A's to the same party. Dotson hit Carney Lansford in June after giving up a home run, and last week he brushed back Jim Essian after another Oakland homer. Then he dusted Rickey Henderson for good measure.
"Rich Dotson is a jerk," says Lansford. "It's O.K. to pitch inside, but after every time somebody hits the ball hard? You'd think he's Bob Gibson out there, but he ain't that good. He's just Rich Dotson."
"I'm not trying to hurt anybody," says Dotson, "but, hey, if they're scared, let 'em get a dog or something."
"When you're over 40," says Tony Perez, second among the Reds with five game-winning RBIs despite batting only 131 times, "people look at you as if you're an old piece of furniture."... In his last six starts, all wins, including a one-hit shutout of the Cubs last week, the Mets' 19-year-old rookie Dwight Gooden has worked 51 innings and allowed only seven earned runs, 25 hits and 12 walks while striking out 64.... St. Louis's George Hendrick will miss the rest of the season after surgery to remove a benign tumor from his thyroid gland.... Steve Garvey's consecutive-game errorless streak is alive at 171 games because an official scorer changed his mind Wednesday at the prodding of the Reds' bench. The scorer thought Garvey had dropped a throw, but the ball was never in his glove.
there's the best team in baseball, and look how many problems they have. Well, other teams have problems."
As for the criticism he's received from his pitching coach, Roger Craig, and a number of teammates, Morris says: "That's unjust. They never approached me, and that's their responsibility. I'd never say anything without confronting that person. It shows something about their character. I've read so much about my temper, it's literally nauseating. I'm being made the scapegoat."
LET US PRAY
This has been a terrible year for the Dodgers, who are 10 games under .500, but the reigning champions of the NL West apparently haven't lost their sense of humor.
Manager Tommy Lasorda was talking to Pedro Guerrero the other day about Guerrero's defensive problems this season. Guerrero has committed 19 errors at third base and in the outfield.
"What do you do out there?" the manager wanted to know.
"First, I pray to God nobody hits the ball to me," Guerrero said. "Then, I pray to God nobody hits the ball to Steve Sax."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
BRUCE SUTTER: The St. Louis reliever notched three saves to give him 40 for the year (in 46 chances), breaking the National League mark of 37 he'd shared with Rollie Fingers and Clay Carroll.
"The good thing about him is there's no baloney," says the Cubs' Richie Hebner about his manager, Jim Frey. "He has a meeting, it lasts five minutes. I've had managers who had 30-minute meetings but quit making sense after 30 seconds."