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DRAVECKY : He Serves a Dual Purpose on the Padre Pitching Staff

March 30, 1985|CHRIS COBBS | Times Staff Writer

YUMA, Ariz. — Bruce Sutter or Jack Morris? Dan Quisenberry or Rick Sutcliffe?

Baseball fans could argue forever the relative value of reliever versus starting pitcher. Is it more important to have a player who can save 40 games a year or to have a starter who can win 20?

It so happens the Padres have a left-hander named Dave Dravecky who just might have the ability to do both. Not in the same year, of course. They would have to add a new wing to the Hall of Fame for that kind of double achievement.

Dravecky may not ever approach the statistical levels reached by stars such as Sutter of the Atlanta Braves and Morris of the Detroit Tigers, simply because the Padres can't decide which role he is best suited for, starting or relieving. Actually, they can't even figure out if he's better in short or long relief.

It must be frustrating for Dravecky to live this double life, right? After all, this looms as his third season of shuttling between the starting rotation and the bullpen at the whim of Manager Dick Williams.

Well, if it is, indeed, tearing Dravecky apart, he is doing a masterful job of concealment.

"I love this game so much, I'm willing to do whatever it takes," he said. "I'd like to establish myself one way or the other eventually, but I don't see it as a problem right now. My arm can handle both jobs."

He can handle both jobs head-wise, too, as Kurt Bevacqua might say.

After his 14-10 record in 1983, Dravecky was 9-8 with a 2.93 earned-run average last year, appearing in 36 games as a reliever and 14 as a starter. He was used strictly in relief in the postseason and did not permit a run in 10 innings.

This year, Williams plans to put him in the bullpen to start the season. Maybe. No decisions will be made until the end of spring training.

Dravecky is preparing himself for both worlds.

"I really can't think of anyone else who is in this position," Dravecky said. "I can't say I favor one role over the other. There's something unique about each.

"I like the pressure of relief, the do-or-die situation with men on base. On the other hand, I also like starting and trying to hold the other team scoreless for nine innings, or as long as possible."

Dravecky is experimenting with a new pitch this spring, the split-fingered fastball, the pitch favored by Sutter and Morris.

"I need an offspeed pitch to go with my fastball and slider," Dravecky said. "I hope I will be able to break it out during the regular season, but I still need some work with it."

Dravecky said he thinks he is going to pitch a pretty good game one of these days. But he hasn't done it yet, at least not in his mind.

"People ask what was the best game I ever pitched," he said. "Well, I've never had a best game. It hasn't happened yet. But I think it will, as long as I give 150%."

For the Draveckys of the world, the guys who just can't make up their mind, Sinatra should record a new version of his standard. "I did it both ways."

Padre Notes

Alan Wiggins singled home Al Bumbry with one out and the bases loaded in the 10th inning to give the Padres an 8-7 win over the Giants Friday. It was San Francisco's sixth straight loss. The winds had subsided somewhat from the zephyr-level that prevailed the night before. The Giants' Atlee Hammaker, in his longest stint since suffering an arm injury two years ago, stopped the Padres on one run through six innings before a three-run rally in the seventh. The Giants got five runs and six hits off San Diego starter Andy Hawkins . . . Dave Dravecky will be the starter in today's game against the Cleveland Indians. LaMarr Hoyt will work Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers . . . Luis DeLeon, struck above the hip by a line drive two days ago, threw without pain on the sidelines Friday.

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