The difference between playing in Montreal's Olympic Stadium and Chicago's Wrigley Field, Andre Dawson said after signing with the Cubs, "is like night and day."
Well, you can't argue with that. Dawson obviously prefers playing in the daylight even if his new employers are desperately trying to operate after dark. "I see the ball better and I have a history of hitting better in day games," he says. And, for now, those are the only kind of games they play at Wrigley. But Dawson's favorite thing about his new home is its real grass. The artificial surface in Montreal was hell on his knees, and it was one good reason he became a free agent. The Cubs got him at bargain prices this spring, so passionate was his love of sun and grass.
Dawson will play right in manager Gene Michael's revised lineup, and Keith Moreland, the rightfielder for the last three seasons, doesn't mind. Moreland was a third baseman in the minors, and he might have stayed one had his original team, the Phillies, not had Mike Schmidt. "It may take me a while to get used to third," acknowledges Moreland. "But I know the move will help the team."
Dawson's partners in the outfield will be Rafael Palmeiro in left and either Bob Dernier or Chico Walker in center. Walker hit .298 and stole 67 bases last year at Iowa. Palmeiro, 22, hit .306 with 95 RBIs at Class AA Pittsfield.
Pitching remains a headache. The staff was last in the league in ERA (4.49) and complete games (11) in '86. The once formidable foursome of Rick Sutcliffe, Dennis Eckersley, Steve Trout and Scott Sanderson will be trying their third consecutive comeback. Lots of luck.
Had 27 steals in 29 attempts (93.1%), the best rate in the NL.
Committed only five errors last year, one in his last 63 games.
A career average of .346 at Wrigley Field, his highest anywhere.
Warning to fans sitting behind 1B: career .886 fielding percentage in 56 games at 3B.
Has walked between 64 and 69 times in each of the last five seasons.
Hit 62 homers in the friendly confines, 35 when not so amicably confined.
Averaged one walk every 29.1 plate appearances, lowest rate in NL last season.
Batting support: 3.26 runs per start, lowest in the NL.
Allowed 86 extra-base hits, the most in the National League.
0-8, 6.19 ERA in 13 starts vs. teams with winning records.
Batting support: 5.24 runs per start, 2nd best in the NL.
Loves to face: Von Hayes (.071, 1 for 14); hates to face: Glenn Wilson (.857, 6 for 7, 2 HRs).
Only pitcher in majors to have 25+ saves in each of past four seasons.