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Baseball / Ross Newhan : Madlock Won’t Be Buying Dinner Now That Carlton Is Not Playing

Bill Madlock, four-time National League batting champion, began the 1986 season with a career batting average of .309, 25 points higher than his average against 41-year-old Steve Carlton, who was released by the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.

“He could be 100 and still get me out,” the Dodger third baseman said.

When he was in Pittsburgh, Madlock’s teammates used to bet him a dinner that Carlton would strike him out at least once every time he started against the Pirates.

One time, Madlock said, he seemed to be a certain winner. He had gone 0 for 4 but had not struck out, and the Pirates had a 5-0 lead against Carlton going into the ninth. The Phillies then rallied for a tie, forcing extra innings.

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“I struck out in the 10th,” Madlock said. “It cost me four dinners.”

Thus, Madlock has no regrets about seeing Carlton go, just a feeling of respect.

“I’ve hit my knee swinging the bat against him,” Madlock said. “We’re talking can’t-touch-him.

“I mean, he had a great attitude for a pitcher . . . (bleep) everybody. He had 100% concentration. Nothing else mattered. Hit, error . . . he just never changed expression on the mound. He’ll probably go down as the greatest left-hander ever.”

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Carlton was only an imitation over the last two years, however. A 1985 rotator cuff strain seemed to compound the march of time. He had a 5-16 record and 4.68 earned-run average during those final two years in Philadelphia. He allowed 284 batters to reach base in his last 175 innings. And in the 21 innings of his last five starts, he allowed 25 runs.

Injuries have claimed the Oakland A’s top two starting pitchers, Joaquin Andujar and Moose Haas; their top relief pitcher, Jay Howell, and their clubhouse leader, center fielder Dwayne Murphy.

Manager Jackie Moore didn’t have a chance. The surprising aspect of his firing was the response of several of the Oakland players, who implied they were instructed not to talk to the Bay Area press corps, though no one would identify the source of those instructions.

The silent treatment apparently stemmed from the press corps’ coverage of the incident in which Dave Kingman sent a boxed rat to Sacramento Bee baseball writer Susan Fornoff as part of his ongoing harassment of her. It was reported in the wake of the incident that Kingman’s behavior has isolated him from his teammates. Some of the A’s who refused to talk about Moore’s firing said that Kingman isn’t isolated, that the media had it wrong.

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In the meantime: Recently fired Chicago White Sox Manager Tony LaRussa remains the leading candidate to succeed Moore, and Kingman has been foiled in a bid to retrieve the rat as a pet for his wife. A security man in the Kansas City press box gave the rat to a friend’s 5-year-old son, who rejected Kingman’s $75 offer.

Bo Jackson’s signing by the Kansas City Royals has had an impact on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ attempt to sign the June draft’s No. 1 selection, Arkansas third baseman Jeff King.

“We’re not going to sign a joker’s contract,” King’s agent, Randy Hendricks, said of the Pirates’ reported $160,000 offer.

Jackson, who will make his pro debut for the Memphis Chicks of the Double-A Southern League Monday night, will receive a guaranteed $200,000 this year, including a $100,000 signing bonus and $100,000 salary.

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The three-year contract calls for a salary of $333,000 in 1987 and $383,000 in ’88, when he can also earn a $150,000 bonus if he spends the entire year with the Royals.

Should Jackson elect to give up baseball in favor of football before July 1, 1987, he will have to return his signing bonus and salary, minus taxes.

If he elects to give up baseball after July 1, 1987, he will have to return half the bonus and salary, minus taxes.

First baseman Glenn Davis of the Houston Astros is on a pace projecting to 37 homers and 111 runs batted in, both club records.

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The impressive second-year man has also displayed an ability to adjust.

In San Francisco, for example, Davis faced a shift in which the Giants put three players on the left side of the infield. Davis went 1 for 16 in a three-game series.

Then, during a four-game series in Houston, the Cincinnati Reds tried the same ploy. Davis was ready. He went 8 for 13, hitting a home run in each of the four games.

Said Cincinnati Manager Pete Rose: “We could have put 20 people out there and he still would have gotten his hits.”

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The Atlanta Braves are reportedly pursuing a left-handed hitting outfielder, honing in on Ken Griffey of the New York Yankees and Ben Oglivie of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The aim is to bolster an inexplicably anemic outfield.

Left fielder Terry Harper has delivered one RBI since May 28, and his batting average has been over .200 only once since May 15.

And center fielder Dale Murphy, with an average of 108 RBIs over the last four years, has driven in only 32 runs, a pace projecting to just 66. Murphy’s struggle includes a league-high 67 strikeouts.

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Atlanta, meanwhile, is also said to be pursuing pitching help, having received only two wins from a starter other than Rick Mahler in a 32-game span.

Mahler is 8-1 over his last 13 starts despite an ERA of 4.06. How? The Braves have averaged 5.3 runs in those 13 starts.

Juan Berenguer, who had saved only one game in his previous eight seasons as a spot starter and middle reliever with the Mets, Royals and Tigers, has strengthened the Giants’ bullpen to the point that Manager Roger Craig says:

“He’s my Panamanian Goose.”

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Berenguer went to the Giants in an off-season trade that sent Dave LaPoint and Eric King to the Tigers. Now, refining his split-finger fastball under Craig, the master of that pitch, Berenguer has allowed only 1 run and 14 hits in his last 27 innings, striking out 34.

Performance of the Week: Chicago Cub reliever Lee Smith wrapped up a victory over the Mets by striking out Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry and Gary Carter--a combined 115 RBIs--in the ninth.

He then came back against Philadelphia two nights later and struck out the first two batters he faced--Mike Schmidt and Von Hayes, another 87 RBIs.

Cub relievers Ray Fontenot and Guy Hoffman absorbed punishment without even leaving the bullpen during Philadelphia’s 19-1 rout of last week.

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Fontenot, reaching for the phone and another warmup call from Manager Gene Michael, slipped on the metal flooring and bruised his hips and ribs. Hoffman, assisting Fontenot to his feet, slipped and fell on top of him, suffering his own assortment of bruises.

Released by the Seattle Mariners Wednesday, Gorman Thomas’ final at-bat was a sacrifice bunt, a strange adieu for the man who hit 262 homers.

Seattle has swallowed more than $700,000 in guaranteed salaries by releasing Thomas, Al Cowens and Milt Wilcox. Next could be Steve Yeager, who can’t be cut until he comes off the disabled list, which is expected soon.

Yeager has been sidelined by bruised ribs. He has appeared in only 42 games, batting .211. The Mariners, it will be recalled, had hoped that the ex-Dodger could buoy a young pitching staff by catching 100 to 110 games.

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The word is that hitters are now laying off Dwight Gooden’s high fastball.

The New York Mets’ Dr. K averaged 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings as a 1984 rookie and 8.8 in 1985. Now it’s 7.0.

Gooden has only 4 strikeouts in his last 12 innings and is 3-3 with a 3.90 ERA over his last nine starts.

Said second baseman Wally Backman, shaking his head: “People are talking about him like he’s 3-15.” The very human Gooden is a very respectable 8-3 with a 2.60 ERA.

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