Since local baseball fans by now are positively aching for some word on how major league baseball players with Utah ties are doing, here are a few highlights and lowlights:
- Pittsburgh's bullpen stopper, Jim Gott, is blaming the weather at his offseason Provo home for his slow start in spring training. After compiling a 14.40 ERA in his first four exhibition relief appearances, the right-handed Gott said: "I didn't get the opportunity to throw as much because of the weather. We had a lot of snow. Playing catch in the snow is one thing; airing it out in the snow is another thing. I've felt behind arm strength-wise ever since I got here."- Oft-outspoken Jack Morris of the Tigers is bitter about Detroit's recent trading of veteran infielder Tom Brookens for minor league infielder Mike Brumley.
"If a team is a body, we still have the heart but we don't have any lungs," Morris said. "Tommy and Darrell Evans (released by Detroit and signed by Atlanta) epitomized the spirit of this team and they're both gone. They talk about loyalty. They crapped on Tommy for nine years, then they trade him.
"(Tigers' owner) Tom Monaghan just sold something a lot more valuable than any Bugatti."
- Cleveland's Cory Snyder figures this is the year he proves that he's worth big bucks. After the 1989 season, the slugging right fielder becomes eligible for salary arbitration, and he's hoping big numbers in 1989 will result in a major pay raise from the $185,000 he made in 1988.
Snyder had his best season last year, raising his average to .272 from 1987's paltry .236 while racking up 26 homers, 75 RBI and reducing his strikeouts from 166 to 101. He also led all American League outfielders in assists with 16.
"I'm not looking for a whole bunch," he said. "I know I'm not going to get what a (Mike) Greenwell or (Mark) McGwire got. They got great contracts. But they earned them with great years. I just want them to be fair with me.
"It would be easy to put too much pressure on myself because of it. I've just got to try to be consistent and let whatever happens happen."
Amen, Cory. Remember Wally Joyner, who looked forward to last season for the same reason, only to have the worst year of his career.
- Atlanta's Dale Murphy opened the exhibition season with 3 hits in 18 at-bats, pretty close to the way he was hitting at the end of last season. And in the beginning and middle, too. But he's not worried. "I've never thought that what I do in the spring affects what happens once the season starts," he said.
Of course, the bright side to Murphy's dismal '88 season is that he's probably going to be everybody's favorite for comeback player of the year.
- The New York Mets, with a wealth of starting pitching, say the offers for Rick Aguilera have been so pitiful they've pulled the right-hander off the trade market. He'll pitch in middle relief and be an extra starter, which of course doesn't make the ex-BYU star a happy hurler.
- Sparky Anderson has to be the only person who isn't impressed with the Padres' offseason acquisition of free-agent lefty Bruce Hurst. "I couldn't believe the money San Diego gave him," Anderson said. "I think he's going to be just ordinary for the Padres this year. He should pitch better than .500 because the Padres have a pretty good ballclub, but he's not going to take the league by storm. I don't put him in a class with Teddy Higuera, Milwaukee's left-hander."
- Wally Joyner's teammates on the Angels recently hung a basketball hoop over his locker stall and started calling him "Magic" after he sprained his ankle playing basketball at a family outing. And the Indians' Cory Snyder and Joe Carter put a basketball in Joyner's locker with their signatures and the message: "You Can Always Play For Our Team."
Joyner had plans for revenge, however. "My buddies," he said. "This might be going back to the Indians - with something else on it. I told them to beware."
OTHER STUFF: Petersen's Baseball Preview magazine ranked Gott only 26th among major-league relievers . . . Bill Mazeroski's baseball magazine picked Morris as righthanded pitcher of the decade and Murphy as best rightfielder of the decade . . . Snyder has struck out 390 times in slightly less than three seasons. Joe DiMaggio struck out 369 times in his career . . .
In its baseball preview issue, Sport magazine tabs Kelly Downs as its favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award . . . Morris is the only pitcher who has been in his team's starting rotation throughout the 1980s, and one of two pitchers to have a winning record every year in the 80s . . .
Snyder hit .315 on the road, .233 at home last season . . . Hurst ended his Red Sox career with 88 victories, one fewer than Babe Ruth . . . Murphy has struck out 100 times in seven straight seasons, tops in the majors.