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Baseball : According to Herzog, the AL West Has Gone Soft Without Him

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Has Whitey Herzog taken a hard look at the young talent being produced by the Angels, Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s? It doesn’t seem that way.

Talking about the American League West the other day, the St. Louis manager, who managed the Kansas City Royals from 1975-1979, said of his former division: “Put the Mets in that division and they might win 150 games. Look at those clubs. Who the (bleep) is going to win that thing? No one is going to play .500, but then someone will have to only because they play each other.”

Now Pete Rose is saying that he will definitely return to the active roster this year, though it can’t be until May 15.

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“I haven’t taken my last at-bat,” Rose said, not surprisingly. “I’ll decide when I retire. I can still hit.”

Does he want a day in his honor?

“No,” he said, “because 50,000 seats aren’t enough (for all his fans).”

Collusion Fodder: So the A’s, in the year that they bring back Reggie Jackson and hype their title possibilities to potential ticket buyers, call off talks with Rich Gedman or Bob Boone.

Who needs a catcher when you’ve got Mickey Tettleton, who batted .204 last year, or Terry Steinbach, who’s played the position for all of 18 months, or Jerry Willard, who threw out 6 of 42 base stealers last year?

The Major League Players Assn. keeps saying that the clubs seem to be reading from a script, and it is noteworthy that the A’s and San Diego Padres used the same language in announcing that they “terminated” negotiations with Gedman and Tim Raines, respectively.

Now Raines’ last hope seems to be the Houston Astros, who are reportedly offering one year at $1 million, with another $200,000 in incentives.

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Still among the unemployed is Dave Kingman, who hit more home runs in the last three years, 100, than any player in either league.

Roger Clemens, still missing from the Boston Red Sox camp, told a Boston radio station that he remains in excellent shape.

“Heck, while working out on my own I do 10 times more than I do in camp,” Clemens said. “The Red Sox spring training is a joke.”

A year without Clemens would be no joke.

“In our division, it could be the difference between first and sixth,” said Bill Buckner, who apparently has his own problems to worry about. He is reportedly telling friends that he is very concerned about his ability to play in the wake of a fourth operation on his left ankle.

Toronto center fielder Lloyd Moseby is a sleeper possibility in Dodger trade plans, though the Blue Jays reportedly want Bob Welch and not Alejandro Pena, which translates to no deal.

Philadelphia, apparently intent on making a run at the Mets as illustrated by the signing of Lance Parrish, may be more reasonable when it comes to moving Gary Redus. The Phillies are reportedly hurting for pitching, with Don Carman and Shane Rawley in doubt physically and Marvin Freeman, 13-6 at Reading last year, ticketed to return to the minors after being hit hard this spring. Bruce Ruffin and Kevin Gross are the only certain Phillie starters.

Cleveland Indian officials, accompanying the team to Palm Springs this weekend, insisted that the Dodgers’ proposal of a Pena package for Brett Butler is ridiculous and that they will only consider Orel Hershiser or Fernando Valenzuela for their talented center fielder.

Would Butler, who grew up in Los Angeles, like to return as a Dodger?

“Would I,” he said. “I’d hug that Italian every day. I’d eat, sleep and drink Dodger blue.”

Baseball’s best manager? Gene Mauch, according to Sparky Anderson, who put it this way:

“The best managers are clones. Look at Earl Weaver, Gene Mauch, Billy Martin, Dick Williams, Whitey Herzog and Tommy Lasorda. They have different personalities, yet they’re all the same, very arrogant.

“All the other guys are concerned with how long they can hold a job, but these guys just don’t give a damn. They want to conquer the world.

“And if you ask me who the best manager in baseball is, I say Gene Mauch. If another manager disputes that, I say, ‘When you manage as long as he has and win as many games as he has, then I’ll talk to you.’

“Gene has enough arrogance for five people. How many people could have gone through what he went through last October for the third time in his life and still walk across the field with all the arrogance in the world.

“If you ask Gene on a lie detector test if he’s the best manager in baseball, the machine would break if he answered no.”

Calvin Griffith, former owner of the Minnesota Twins, would be right at home amid the current economic climate. He said of the owners:

“They’re finally starting to think like I used to think. They’re starting to run it like a business instead of a playhouse. These rich people don’t mind losing a little, but when they start to lose $10 million and $15 million, all their relatives get on them and say, ‘What are we going to get when you die?’ ”

Add Twins: Manager Tom Kelly is not allowing former Montreal Expo Jeff Reardon to pitch against any American Leaguers this spring, figuring that Reardon doesn’t need to familiarize himself as much as the hitters do.

Kansas City relief ace Dan Quisenberry, coming off a 3-7 season in which he had only 12 saves, has allowed 10 hits and 8 runs in 4 spring innings.

“Do you know what’s weird?” he said. “I’ve always felt that after the second week of spring training there was nothing left for me to work on. Now I need time. Now I need help. I just can’t go into the season like I’m throwing now.”

Quisenberry might have received the help he needed the other day when visited by Kent Tekulve, the man who originally taught him the submarine pitching style.

“In 1980, I created a Mercedes,” Tekulve said. “Let’s just say this was a 500-save checkup.”

San Diego could open the season with seven rookies, including catchers Benito Santiago and Mark Parent, second baseman Joey Cora, center fielder Stanley Jefferson, pitcher Jimmy Jones and reserve outfielders James Steels and Shane Mack, the former UCLA Olympian.

Said Manager Larry Bowa: “We’re supposed to be in transition. We might as well do it all the way. These kids won’t embarrass you.”

WGN plans to use a string of Chicago born or oriented celebrities to replace Harry Caray, who is recovering from a stroke, on their early season broadcasts of Cub games. Brent Musburger, Bill Murray and Tom Bosley are expected to take a turn. Even local sportswriters will have a chance. Sun-Times columnist Ron Rapoport will do the game April 27.

The A’s provided a tax seminar for their players. “We’re trying to be the full-service ballclub,” Manager Tony LaRussa said.

First Vida Blue retires, then Moose Haas injures a rotator cuff muscle and Joaquin Andujar strains his right elbow. The A’s, hurt by similar pitching problems last year, are now left with a rotation of Curt Young and Dave Stewart, followed by the suspect Chris Codiroli, Eric Plunk, Jose Rijo and Bill Krueger. The latter four gave up 235 runs in 440 innings last year.

The A’s are trying to revoke the $780,000 contract Haas, sidelined indefinitely, signed in January, saying he misrepresented the condition of his shoulder. Haas, however, did not sign the contract until he was examined by team doctors.

Notes

A bank of lights went out in the ninth inning of a Mets-Reds game the other night. The umpires decided to try to finish it. Cincinnati’s Nick Esasky stepped in amid the darkened conditions and suffered a broken wrist when hit by a pitch by Doug Sisk. He’s out for at least four weeks. . . . Seattle Manager Dick Williams isn’t pleased with the spring work of ex-Dodger Dennis Powell. “He’s pitching as if he’s made the club,” Williams said. “We’re not giving jobs away this year. They have to be earned.” . . . Left-hander Keith Comstock, released by the Yomiuri Giants after two years in Japan, could win a relief job with the San Francisco Giants. Comstock got his spring trial after inviting General Manager Al Rosen to watch him pitch a semipro game in Golden Gate Park over the winter. Comstock threw a no-hitter. . . . Left-hander Jeff Edwards is closing in on a relief job with the Astros after being drafted from the Dodgers for $50,000 in December. Edwards, who joined the Dodgers after playing at Vanderbilt, was 9-10 with 4 saves at San Antonio last year. . . . . Atlanta catcher Bruce Benedict on the training conditions at the Braves’ field in West Palm Beach: “They should park cars on the infield and take grounders in the parking lot.”

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