The Red Sox are the George Chuvalo of the American League East: dangerous, but punchy. In the last two seasons six of Boston's regulars have hit at least .291, and six of the first seven batters have averaged 25 homers and 92 RBIs—the seventh is Wade Boggs. In 1985 alone the first two hitters in the lineup reached base 621 times in front of sluggers like Jim Rice, Tony Armas and Bill Buckner. Still, the Red Sox have finished 18 and 18½ games out in the past two years.
Last September owner Haywood Sullivan recognized the problems of a plodding team with five regulars over 30 when he said, "We can't let this team get old together." The shake-up that followed consisted of trading a 25-year-old shortstop, a 27-year-old pitcher and a prized 20-year-old pitching prospect to the Mets and Orioles for pitchers Wes Gardner, Calvin Schiraldi and Sammy Stewart, who were a combined 7-10, 4.55 last season. Then, on Good Friday, Boston traded an ordained minister, lefthanded DH Mike Easier, to the Yankees for righthanded DH Don Baylor. Just what they needed, you say, another power hitter to bang the ball off The Wall.
The Red Sox hope Gardner can close a gaping hole in the bullpen and help premiere middle men Bob Stanley and Steve Crawford. They also hope their relatively young starters—Oil Can Boyd, Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst and Al Nipper—can stay healthy. The Cardinals actually offered four regular pitchers for Hurst, who says, "I'm not that good."
Few things went right this spring. Boyd was sent home to Boston for hepatitis, showed up late for his first start on March 20 and refused a club request that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Gardner had shoulder trouble. Stewart hurt his leg after allowing 19 base runners in his first 5‚Öì innings. Not only that, but Rice was lumbering on a bad knee.
"I read all winter where we were going to make amends for last year's disappointment," said one veteran this spring. "Then the games start, and base runners are being picked off, cutoff men are being overthrown, we're grounding into double plays, and balls are falling in. Nothing's changed."
THE ELIAS ANALYST:
One of only four catchers to hit for cycle in the postwar era.
Had a BA higher with runners on than with bases empty in eight of last nine seasons.
Plays in nostalgic park, but likes indoors; career .348 BA in Metrodome, .350 in Kingdome.
Bosox were 50-30 with him at short, 31-51 with Jackie Gutierrez starting.
Failed to reach base safely in only eight of his 161 games-
Batting average in LIP situations has been lower than overall average for last seven years.
Only 200-home-run hitter in history with more HRs (213) than walks (206).
His BA with runners in scoring position dropped from .331 in '84 to. 177 last year.
Hit by pitch 24 times in 1985, tying AL mark and boosting total to an AL record 192 HBPs.
OIL CAN BOYD
Pitched into the 7th inning in all but two of his 35 starts.
Received 6.00 runs per start, 3rd-highest average in the AL in '85.
Has now made 51 starts without a complete-game shutout.
Allowed no first-inning runs in 15 starts last year, lowest rate in the AL.