Dave Anderson of the New York Times, reviewing the career of Rod Carew, recalled that Jim Frey once thought he had finally discovered how to pitch to the seven-time American League batting champion.
"I saw him strike out in Venezuela with a dinky little swing at a soft curveball," Frey said. "Watching a softball game on television later, I saw him take that dinky little swing at a slow pitch and strike out. I figured I had it.
"The first time we played him the next season, I told Scott McGregor to throw Carew the slowest curveball he could throw, the slower the better. Sure enough. Slow curveball, strike one. Slow curveball, strike two. Slow curveball, Carew took that dinky little swing and struck out.
"When he came out to first base the next inning, he told me, 'Tell McGregor to stop throwing me that stuff, or the next one is going into the bullpen.' I figure, hey, he knows he can't hit it, that's why he's telling me this.
"His next time up, first pitch, McGregor throws him that slow curve again. Crack, he hit it into the bullpen right where he said he would. That was the last slow curve he ever got."
Add Carew: Of his forced retirement from the Angels, he said: "I read where Gene Mauch said he was embarrassed to offer me a $200,000 salary. But why not see if I would take it? Money was never a major problem with me."
Trivia Time: At what position and for which team did Texas Manager Bobby Valentine and former managers Don Zimmer, Ken Boyer, Joe Torre and Jim Fregosi all play during their careers? (Answer below.)
Don't tell Calvin Griffith fundamentals aren't important. Recalling the 1967 season when Minnesota lost the pennant by one game to Boston on the final day of the season, the former owner of the Twins said: "We had two fine pitchers, Jim Perry and Jim Kaat, and you couldn't say they didn't have the experience to know better, but they didn't cover first base five times and that cost us five games."
Wrapping up spring training, Richard Justice of the Washington Post picked out the following for special mention:
--Boston catcher Marc Sullivan, who went 13 straight at-bats without putting a ball in play.
--Milwaukee outfielder Paul Householder, who was standing in the on-deck circle when a screen cover broke loose and knocked him down.
--San Diego catcher Terry Kennedy, who found a Dave Kingman home run ball in his car, via the back windshield.
--Cleveland outfielder Mel Hall, who, chasing a hit, became stuck in an outfield fence. Shortstop Julio Franco, closest to the play, was so doubled up in laughter, he allowed Oakland's Carney Lansford to go all the way around to score.
The family of Kevin Pritchard, blue-chip basketball guard in Tulsa, found this message on its answering machine from one time Temple football player Bill Cosby: "If Kevin doesn't take a visit to Temple, I'm going to have Fat Albert come sit on his dribbling hand."
Trivia Answer: Third base for the New York Mets. A total of 78 players have played the position for the Mets, starting with Don Zimmer in 1962 and ending with Ray Knight in 1985. Others include Bob Bailor, Alex Trevino, Amos Otis and Dave Kingman.
New York Yankee catcher Ron Hassey, told that George Steinbrenner considered third basemen Mike Pagliarulo and shortstop Bobby Meacham the keys to the season: "Pags and Meacham? We're in trouble."