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Baseball : A's Andujar Is Trying to Set an Example, Instead of Being One

March 16, 1986|Ross Newhan

PHOENIX — Maybe the Oakland A's are right. Maybe Joaquin Andujar can be an example to and leader of a young pitching staff.

The other day, for instance, his work already done and free to leave, Andujar insisted on riding the team bus to Tempe so that he could watch the A's game with Seattle and start preparing a "book" on the Mariner hitters.

Then, before a game with the Milwaukee Brewers here, he spotted fellow pitcher Jose Rijo in the stands, dressed and ready to leave after having completed his workout.

"Damn it, get down here," Andujar shouted. "You can't learn anything watching TV at the hotel."

The 20-year-old Rijo, who is also from the Dominican Republic, responded. He put his uniform back on, took a seat in the dugout and analyzed the Milwaukee hitters with Andujar, who has already turned the talented Rijo's delivery into a duplicate of his own.

Andujar also has proved to the A's that he is, as he is proclaimed, one tough Dominican.

He is one of the few pitchers anywhere to throw batting practice without a protective screen in front of the mound.

"Hey, when you pitch in a game, nobody's going to put the screen up for you then," he said.

Add Andujar: His 41 victories in the last two years are more than the career win totals of 21 of the 22 pitchers in the Oakland camp. The exception is veteran Rick Langford, who has 72.

Touted Chicago Cub shortstop Shawon Dunston, who crumbled under the pressure of veteran Larry Bowa's presence last April, appears ready now to fulfill his promise.

"You look at him take 25 balls today against what he did a year ago and you're not even sure it's the same player," Manager Jim Frey said. "He looks relaxed. He looks like he feels he can play in the big leagues."

Dunston demonstrated as much after his recall last year in August. He hit .320 in 40 games and his field play was exceptional.

Now Dunston says it's only a matter of going out and having fun.

"I know I'm the shortstop and that's a good feeling," he said. "I don't have to look over my shoulder or worry about being sent to the minors if I make a mistake."

The Bay Area press is growling over Al Rosen's apparent tendency to play with the truth.

The new general manager of the Giants even admitted that he had lied during a series of stories evolving from the attempt to sign free agent Joel Youngblood.

"It seemed the simplest way," Rosen told the San Francisco Chronicle's Dave Bush when caught in his contradiction.

Rosen reeled off several other contradictions during last week's response to the story that the Giants were actively pursuing Reggie Jackson.

The story now seems to have been nothing more than a publicity plant by Rosen, who kept changing the extent of his interest in Jackson--along with other details--depending on when and by whom he was being interviewed.

New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, in response to his inability to locate publicist Harvey Green one night last week, has now imposed a 9 p.m. curfew on Green, his 10th publicist in the last 13 years.

Mickey Morabito, who was one of the 10 and is now traveling secretary of the A's, recalled that he, too, was the victim of a curfew.

"We had a trade or something, and George had called everywhere looking for me except my room, which is where I was," Morabito said. "I guess my reputation had preceded me."

Add Steinbrenner: The Yankee owner also struck in another way last week.

A young intern working for publicist Green had been sent from the press box at the club's Fort Lauderdale stadium to the downstairs offices to copy some statistics.

Before the intern could get back upstairs, he was fired by Steinbrenner for parking his car in such a way that Donald Trump, Steinbrenner's friend, had difficulty backing his own car out.

Philadelphia Phillie third baseman Mike Schmidt will be sidelined another 7 to 10 days because of a back injury suffered hitting balls off a tee--at a golf driving range.

Spring Fever: San Francisco third baseman Chris Brown claimed that he had a fever the other day and was excused from practice. That night he was seen at a Phoenix Sun basketball game.

Spring Fever II: The Giants almost always run a fever in March, as they are again, having won their first seven exhibition games. Last year they were a respectable 14-14 in the spring before staggering to a 62-100 record in the regular season. The year before, they had the Cactus League's best record of 18-9, then went 66-96 when it counted.

What may be different this time is that new Manager Roger Craig seems to have given the Giants a sense of respect, discipline and confidence. Can they sustain it? Could be difficult, considering that:

--The projected rotation of Scott Garrelts, Mike Krukow, Atlee Hammaker, Bill Laskey and Roger Mason won a total of 28 games in '85.

--The projected infield of first baseman Will Clark, second baseman Rob Thompson, shortstop Jose Uribe and third baseman Brown has less than three years' major league experience.

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