The Pirates' John Candelaria, who loves to scream, is at it again. After losing 1-0 to Nolan Ryan last week, he castigated G.M. Pete Peterson. "We've got a bozo for a general manager," Candelaria said. "You can go out and ask any kid on the street. He knows what we need. We need hitting."
"I consider the source," Peterson said. "One day he criticizes me. He has said he would never work in relief. He has criticized his agent for not getting him a better contract. He has criticized the fans. He has criticized the media."
The Blue Jays, who are 24-14, have the second-best record in the major leagues and will win 102 games if they maintain that pace. But because of Detroit's extraordinary start, the Tigers lead the Jays by 8½ games, equaling or exceeding the distance between the first-and last-place teams in the other three divisions.
"Last year," says Lloyd Moseby, the Jays' brilliant centerfielder, "we knew we were good. This year we came in arrogant. But it was a good arrogance: We knew we could win and that we wouldn't back down at any time."
One of the reasons for the Jays' fine start is Dave Stieb. Early last season he was the pitching story in baseball. He has very quietly started 1984 with a 5-1 record and a 2.32 ERA.
Bruce Benedict may have hit a career-high .298 for the Braves last year, but for now he has lost out as No. 1 catcher to Alex Trevi√±o, who was buried on the Reds' bench before he was traded to Atlanta last month. Joe Torre, who was Trevi√±o's manager in New York, had been after him for more than a year because he liked his defense and his ability to call a game. Trevi√±o hit .216 in only 167 at bats last season, but he's batting a rousing .372 as a Brave.
"That guy can really bring the best out of me," Trevi√±o says of Torre. "He appreciates my talent."
Says Torre, "I told Bruce, 'He's hot right now, and I'm going to try to win as many games as I can. This is good for me but bad for you.' But he accepts that."
George Brett made his first appearance of 1984 last Friday after recovering from a spring-training knee injury—and smacked two singles and a double. "I went back to my 1974 style, when I first worked with [the late] Charley Lau," said Brett, who felt he tried to pull too much last year. "I hadn't done anything for so long, when I started taking batting practice I told myself I was going to go out and learn to hit the ball to left again."
Tim Lollar is the best-hitting pitcher in the National League, so it was no shock when he drove in all four runs for the Padres on May 15 in their 6-4 loss to the Expos. But it was a shock when righthander Joaquin Andujar, one of the worst-hitting pitchers, "called" a grand slam batting lefthanded in the Cards' 9-1 victory over the Braves that same night. Andujar, who hit a homer batting right-handed earlier this season, had turned to the Cards' dugout and pointed to the rightfield seats before he went to the plate.
Chicago's Greg Luzinski has one homer, five RBIs and a .207 batting average. Says one AL pitching coach, "If you throw him nothing but fastballs, he'll catch up with it, but if you mix it up and then look to get him out on heat, he won't."... Dick Schofield, the Angels' rookie shortstop, may be hitting .217, but according to player personnel director Gene Mauch, "He separates offense and defense better than any young player I've ever seen."... The Mariners' Gorman Thomas surrendered last week and decided to undergo the rotator cuff surgery he probably should have had in March. "I want the fans to know I really tried," he said. "I really did. But I just couldn't win this fight. I'll be back."... Jim Eisenreich is back. The Twins' outfielder, who has gone on the disabled list in each of the last three seasons because of a nervous disorder, was reactivated Friday.... The Yankees' two shutout losses last week gave them 10 in their first 38 games, or two more than in all of 1983. This projects to 42 for the season, nine more than the big league record of 33 set by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1908.... Veteran Jim Palmer, 0-3 with a 9.17 ERA at the time he was released by the Orioles last week, says he told club officials, "Why don't you trade me to Detroit and even up the race?"
The Reds' Mario Soto last Thursday became the first pitcher in nearly six years to register four strikeouts in an inning. He's only the 17th major-leaguer to do it. Soto, who's off to his best start (6-1), is throwing more sliders than usual at the suggestion of new pitching coach Stan Williams. "He used to throw about half fastballs and half changes and just a few sliders," says Williams, "but I thought he should throw the slider more to have a pitch that's coming in to the hitter on a different plane."
A's manager Steve Boros has returned the green light to Rickey Henderson, who has been in a funk this season and has only 12 steals after getting 100 or more in each of the last three 162-game seasons. Henderson lost in arbitration this winter, didn't get the long-term contract he sought and then found out in spring training that Boros wanted him to be more judicious stealing third base.
"Running the bases is part of Rickey's personality, his mystique," Boros says. "I told him to run with abandon and don't worry about anything. I hope it works."
Phillies first baseman Len Matuszek has started to hit since being switched from the second spot in the order to No. 6. Now he doesn't have to worry about taking pitches for leadoff man Juan Samuel, who has 24 steals already. Matuszek, who was benched for three, games with a .231 average, is 12 for 31 with four homers and 10 RBIs since his return.... Houston's Jose Cruz thinks one reason he's struggling at the plate is the absence of Dickie Thon, whose vision has not yet returned to normal after his beaning the first week of the season. "Dickie always got on base, and the pitchers threw me more fastballs because they didn't fool around with Dickie being a threat to steal," Cruz says. "Now, I don't see fast-balls."... The Mets' brilliant shortstop, 20-year-old Jose Oquendo, was two days away from a trip to Class AAA earlier this month. He had gone 1 for 33, but he bailed out with a 12-for-38 streak.... Cubs coach Johnny Oates is helping catcher Jody Davis with his D. Davis, who hit 24 homers and drove in 84 last season, led the league in passed balls (21) and threw out only 25.9% of would-be base stealers. This year Davis has but two passed balls and has thrown out 40.5% of the runners.... Demanding to be traded hasn't worked. Going 5 for 5 in a recent exhibition game hasn't worked. Now the Cubs' Bill Buckner says he isn't going to shave until he starts two games in a row, something that hasn't happened since the first week of the season. This could get hairy.... Steve Sax, who was caught stealing 30 times last season in 86 attempts, is only 12-24 this year.
In Kirby Puckett's first game in the majors for the Twins (May 8), he went 4 for 5. He's kept it up, batting .462. But before you get carried away, consider that Puckett has only two steals, no RBIs, one walk and one extra-base hit—a double.... If you checked the last line of the Twins' May 16 box score, you might have wondered why 51,863 fans showed up for a midweek afternoon game in May. Well, only 6,346 paying customers, and 2,364 grade school kids who were comped in, were at the Metrodome. But the day before the game, Harvey Mackay, a local businessman who's leading a drive to keep the Twins from moving to Tampa, paid $218,713 to buy 44,166 Family Day tickets. This odd situation was put in proper perspective by the Metrodome employee who posted this sign on the door of the scoreboard operator's cubicle: I NEED 5000 FOR FRIDAY.
A cocky light heavyweight and a hard-hitting heavyweight almost had a go at each other last Thursday afternoon in Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium. When Cubs manager Jim Frey was arguing a call at second, the Reds' Dave Parker, the runner there, started kibbitzing. Frey told Parker to stuff it, Parker returned the compliment, and the beef continued after the third out was made.
The 6'5", 230-pound Parker was on the third-base line, and Frey, 5'7", 170, was at the edge of the Cubs' dugout. "Ruben Amaro and Ron Cey held me back," says Frey. "I would say I reacted kind of instinctively. But now that I've given it some more thought, I'm glad I didn't hurt a player in the prime of his career. I wouldn't want that on my conscience."
When Giants manager Frank Robinson appointed Jack Clark team captain last week, the initial reaction had to be, "You've got to be kidding." The two openly feuded at times in Robinson's first three seasons, and the Giants actually traded Clark to the Pirates last August, only to have National League president Chub Feeney void the deal.
But Clark, who's coming off his poorest season (.268, 66 RBIs), has been a boy scout so far and is hitting .326 with seven homers and 29 RBIs—one of the few bright things about the last-place Giants. "I know what some guys are saying, that I'm the captain of a sinking ship," Clark says. "The truth is, I'm proud of this."
"He's been working hard, he's leading by example," Robinson says. "The team needs something to give it some spark. He has not only turned over a new leaf, he's reading from a new book."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JOAQUIN ANDUJAR: The Cardinals' righty won twice, allowing two earned runs, to give him a league-leading seven victories, and "called" a grand slam against Atlanta, his second homer of '84.
BALL PARK FIGURE
* Commonly expressed in seasons and fractions thereof.