TODAY'S QUIZ: WHY SO SOON?
He is, after all, only 33 years old, and with 215 saves, he has been the best relief pitcher of this decade. Because he has been there when needed every year—never fewer than 33 saves in a full season—he has been the greatest constant of the Royals. But in the '85 playoffs and World Series it was obvious that Royals manager Dick Howser had grown wary of Dan Quisenberry. Howser avoided using Quisenberry against certain lefthanded batters. Now, a quarter of the way through the 1986 season, Howser has decided that Quisenberry's days as the unquestioned ace of the bullpen are over for now.
Last week Quiz warmed up in the third inning of one game, and two days later, with two out in the ninth and a one-run lead, he found himself relieved by Bud Black with Texas first baseman Pete O'Brien, a lefthanded hitter, at the plate. Black, Steve Farr and Quisenberry are now a bullpen committee. "No longer will it automatically be Quiz coming into ball games," Howser says. "And you'll see him coming out of ball games, too. I want to say this in a nice way: He'll be versatile for us." Quisenberry was given the news in a closed-door meeting in Chicago on May 18 with both Howser and pitching coach Gary Blaylock.
In Kansas City's first 41 games, Quisenberry had only six save opportunities, coming up with three saves, a loss and two no-decisions. In his last seven outings, Quiz has given up 16 hits and seven earned runs in 8‚Öî innings. He has allowed 8 of 14 first batters to reach base and 6 of 10 runners he inherited to score.
Quisenberry has made a concerted effort to pitch inside to lefthanded batters, and he feels that with work his sinker will come back. The question is whether or not Howser is making too quick a move, even if it was apparent last season that he was leaning in this direction. "With Quiz, the difference between 40 saves and batting practice pitches is a thin line," says one scout. Quisenberry has admitted that managerial lack of confidence is something he has always had to live with. "There will be some adjustments I'll have to make," says Quiz.
THE UMPIRES VS. RICKEY HENDERSON
Rickey Henderson has become increasingly upset with umpires he claims are calling too many high strikes on him, which is, he says, part of the reason he struck out 28 times in his first 175 at bats after doing so only 65 times in 547 at bats last season. Respected crew chief Jim McKean acknowledges that umpires are finally defining the Henderson strike zone not by his crouch—which gives a pitcher only a few inches to work with—but by where he stands when he hits the ball. "A lot of people have thought we should have done that years ago," says McKean. But Henderson's problem with the limps is even larger than his new strike zone. "He ticks everyone off," says one ump. "We're all sick and tired of his showing us up and slowing down the game by stepping out on every pitch. He told us, 'We're gonna have a meeting,' and we just laughed. No matter what he thinks, the game wasn't created for him."...As if losing weren't tough enough on Minnesota manager Ray Miller, now Billy Martin has announced that he is interested in the job. Martin is still popular in Minnesota, and there were reports that owner Carl Pohlad had met with Martin's attorney, Eddie Sapir, although those talks would necessarily be prolonged because Martin wants club president Howard Fox—whom he punched in 1969 when Fox was traveling secretary—ousted. "If I see Martin come, there better be someone between us or we'll find out just how tough he really is," says Miller. "Anyway, he's screwed up enough teams already."...Dallas Green has resisted making Jim Frey the scapegoat for the Cubs' poor start, partly because Green has seen what happened across town and partly because he realizes that the Cubs are not exactly a complete team. Green told Frey last week to do what he considers necessary, so Frey moved Keith Moreland from rightfield to third base and benched Ron Cey temporarily, while Green threatened to trade heretofore untouchables. The Cubs' ballyhooed starting rotation was 7-12, 5.11 in 39 games, and that was supposed to be one of the team strengths. Green also offered a rational solution to the Wrigley Field lights controversy by suggesting that the city allow lights in return for his promise not to move the franchise and to play only 18 regular-season night games. That's better than Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's reaction to the National League's edict that the Cubs use Busch Stadium for playoff games: "We're not lump-lump here. This is a city. We are people. We have rights."...Then there was San Francisco Mayor Dianne Fein-stein's press conference to announce a new stadium site for the Giants. No Giant officials attended because the site has room for only 5,500 parking spaces and is not yet close to a public transportation outlet....
One American League scout, noting that he has clocked Phil Niekro's knuckler in the low 50s, says, "He screws up hitters' timing so badly that maybe teams should get out a gun, then get a batting-practice pitcher throwing at that speed and let them get used to it before the game."...There have been many disagreements between Tiger G.M. Bill Lajoie and manager Sparky Anderson in the past, and they went public this week when Sparky announced that he might put rookie Eric King into the rotation. "If we give up on our rotation, we're——," responded Lajoie. Pitchers are privately contending that Roger Craig's absence is now deeply felt because he could calm Anderson and keep Tiger pitchers in a positive frame of mind....
Of his relationship with manager Davey Johnson, Ron Darling says, "This could be another Weaver-Palmer. I seem to take the brunt of criticism on this staff." After Darling allowed three hits and two runs in picking up his fourth straight win, Johnson called Darling's performance "terrible," adding, "He has flashes of brilliance, but he doesn't pitch as well as his ability warrants." Oh, yes: The Mets have won all of Darling's first eight starts.
THEY'RE DODGING THE DRAFT
The management of baseball, which sometimes seems like a private club for buffoons, will make this June 2 free-agent draft a closed affair. No names are to be announced until a week after the draft, and then they will be announced not in draft order but alphabetically. Their intention is to get a jump on agents and college recruiters who use the draft to verify their own reports on top prospects. But the real result will be draftees overestimating their own worth and asking for big money. Besides, the public will lose interest in the draft. Once again, the people who run baseball cannot be accused of having either intelligence or a liking for their game.
In any case, speaking of drafts, five notable judges of baseball talent were asked the question: "Who was the best prospect you ever saw?"
Howie Haak of the Pirates, who started with Branch Rickey and the Dodgers 39 years ago and may be the first scout in Cooperstown if that breed is ever admitted to the Hall of Fame: "Alfredo Edmead, a Dominican outfielder whom we signed in 1975. He was 17 years old and so good that he skipped the rookie leagues and started in the Carolina League. He was hitting .314 with 7 triples, 18 doubles and 61 stolen bases when he collided with friend and second baseman Pablo Cruz in Salem, Virginia. Cruz's knee crushed his [Edmead's] skull and he was killed. Doctors later learned that his skull was so thin that, had he been beaned, even if he was wearing a helmet, he'd have been killed. But he had the best skills I ever saw." This from the same man who scouted Roberto Clemente and Frank Robinson.
Joe Stephenson of the Red Sox, who has worked Southern California for 36 years: "Ken Brett—but as a centerfielder. When the Red Sox drafted him, they needed pitching, but I never thought he had the makeup to pitch. He was a better hitter, had more power, could run, throw and play defense better than his brother. He'd have been a great centerfielder for Boston for years. Next? Robin Yount."
Dick Bogard, Oakland scouting director: "Reggie Jackson. He could do absolutely everything, and with instinct. Reggie always loved to play."
Brandy Davis, national supervisor for the Cubs: "It would be between Mike Schmidt and Dale Murphy. Schmidt was a college shortstop with extraordinary power, hands, instincts, great presence and maturity....
But Murphy had everything, too." When Davis was with the Phils, he begged for Murphy, but he was overruled and they took Lonnie Smith in the '74 draft.
George Digby, Red Sox Southeastern scout since 1944 (he scouted both Wade Boggs and Haywood Sullivan): "Willie Mays, and not because he turned out to be so great. In 1949, I went up to scout Boston's Double A club in Birmingham. The general manager was a friend of mine, and he suggested that I stay over a day and take a look at the Birmingham Black Barons. As soon as I saw that 17-year-old kid in centerfield, I wanted to sign him. He wanted to sign, too, but when I called back to the office, they told me I had to wait—I guess because he was black. They sent a coach named Larry Woodall down for a second opinion, but Woodall didn't like Mays and signed Piper Davis instead." Digby also said that when Dwight Gooden was in high school, he was the best pitching prospect he'd ever seen.
THE BOSOX AND THE BLEACHERS
When Don Slaught of the Rangers was beaned by the Red Sox' Oil Can Boyd, on May 17, it was suggested by the Rangers that Slaught had lost sight of the pitch against the centerfield backdrop of bleacher fans. "I don't think there's any doubt he didn't see the ball," said the Rangers' Tom Paciorek. "When you get a righthander coming over the top, it's tough to pick the ball from out of all those people. They ought to close that area off. You know what happened to Tony C." The response from Red Sox president Haywood Sullivan was, "Who's complaining about it? Guys who are hitting .190." Actually, one of the most vocal critics was Wade Boggs, who said, "It's a dangerous situation." Said the compassionate Sullivan, "We'll close it if the players agree to take a pay cut proportionate to the lost seats."...Dick Williams has made his response to Steve Garvey's criticism: "Garvey doesn't know everything," said Williams. "He's not an authority on every matter. He has his own management group, but he's not a manager." Williams is already riding herd on the Mariners, threatening changes and the release of some veterans like Steve Yeager and Gorman Thomas....
The Cardinals have been taking bids on both Andy Van Slyke and Tommy Herr (3 for 35 with runners in scoring position), hoping to shake them out of their doldrums. The players are being protected, however. Their averages are no longer being flashed on the scoreboard....
This is the way trades are and aren't made these days: Oakland G.M. Sandy Alderson called Detroit G.M. Lajoie looking for a lefthanded hitter. Lajoie offered John Grubb for Steve Henderson. Alderson said he didn't want Grubb, but he would give the Tigers Henderson just to get rid of his salary. Lajoie said he wouldn't take Henderson unless he could unload Grubb's salary....
Braves manager Chuck Tanner has suggested a seven-day disabled list for minor injuries as a way to deal with the 24-man rosters.
RONALD C. MODRA
K.C. skipper Howser is keeping submariner Quisenberry submerged this season.
Henderson may complain, but umpires don't think he has a leg to stand on.
¬Æ TOPPS CHEWING GUM INC.
Happy 46th birthday, Jim Maloney.
BETWEEN THE LINES
WALLY, JOSE, BEWARE
Fourteen rookies have hit 30 or more homers, but for eight of them—Wally Berger, Rudy York, Ron Kittle, Walter Dropo, Jimmie Hall, Earl Williams, Tony Oliva and Willie Montanez—the rookie output was a career high.
THE MANAGERIAL MOVE OF THE YEAR
Pat Corrales went onto the field and chewed out his players as they were giving up five runs in the first inning of an 11-5 loss to Toronto on May 17. "I told them I was not pleased with the way they were playing," Corrales said after Cleveland's eighth loss in nine games. "That's not quite the way I phrased it. If you want me to put it the way I said it, I will, but since all of you guys have editors, I guess I won't."
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
•"I've never been on a team with 27 leftfielders, but if that's the way they want to do it, it's fine with me. I'll be the team basketball. I'll just bounce around from leftfield to rightfield to center-field, to first base to DH to pinch-hitting. I'm not going to make any more trade requests. This place is too much fun."—Ken Griffey of the Yankees after Dan Pasqua's return made his status uncertain.
•"He hit it a lot further than it went."—Oakland southpaw Curt Young on a Rickey Henderson homer.
NICKNAME OF THE WEEK
"5 0 2 0," given to the Braves' Ken Oberkfell, who at .325 is seventh in the league in hitting but has scored only 15 runs and knocked in 14—four in his last 99 at bats.
THE DOUBLE A BATTERY OF THE WEEK
Thirty-two-year-old Juan Tyrone Eichelberger III and 30-year-old Ned Yost of the Greenville, Tenn. Braves.
THE GLEN GORBOUS AWARD
To Phillies outfielder Glenn Wilson, who got two assists throwing out San Diego's Marvell Wynne in one turn around the bases May 21. Wilson cut down Wynne at third, only to have Rick Schu drop the ball. Wilson was credited with an assist, and when the next batter flied out to him in right, he threw Wynne out at the plate.
•In the ninth inning on May 19 and the first the next night, 11 consecutive Boston batters reached base against Twins pitching. As if that wasn't bad enough, Minnesota manager Ray Miller had to look up at the scoreboard after three innings of the 17-7 rout on May 20 and see 6 1 2—the Minneapolis area code.
•After Tony La Russa was returned to power, the White Sox won 10 of their first 12, including seven in a row. Five times they won in their last time at bat.
•The Red Sox are an offensive team (they hit doubles in 31 consecutive games through May 20), but in only 28 of Bruce Hurst's last 73 starts have they scored more than three runs.
•Seventy-four of Mike Witt's 100 pitches in a 3-2 defeat in Baltimore May 21 were curveballs, including 17 in a row.
•Chili Davis is now hitting .563 (9 for 16) against Dwight Gooden. His on-base percentage is .632. "I wish I could concentrate against the other pitchers the way I do against him," said Davis.
•When Mike Brown hit a three-run, ninth-inning homer to beat Nolan Ryan in Houston May 20, it was the first time in 100 games that the Pirates had come from behind to win in the ninth. It was also their first homer in the Astrodome since pitcher Don Robinson hit one on May 28, 1984.
•If Gooden wins 25 games this season, he will have 66 victories before his 22nd birthday—16 fewer than Bob Feller had when he turned 22.
•When the Yankees called Dan Pasqua up from Columbus last season, he homered in his first game. He eventually was sent back, but when they recalled him, he again homered. When he was called up May 21, he homered in his first game again. Rumor has it that Lou Piniella is considering optioning Pasqua, who bats only against righthanders, to Columbus whenever the Yankees face lefties.
•Tim Raines doubled from both sides of the plate in the same inning May 18 in San Diego. He has reached base in every Montreal game this season.
FIRST THE AMERICA'S CUP AND NOW THIS...
These three Aussies are shortstop Craig Shipley (left), pitcher Adrian Meagher and a wallaby. Shipley and Meagher are with the Dodgers' Triple A club in Albuquerque, and though both are now injured, the players from Down Under hope to get Sent Up. The wallaby is unsigned.