LaPoint Knows Where He Stands With Boros

July 11, 1986|CHRIS DE LUCA

SAN DIEGO — After the Padres rallied Thursday to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-3, the Padres' newest members--Ed Whitson and Dave LaPoint--stood on the curb outside the stadium waiting for a cab.

The two had more in common than a lack of transportation in San Diego--both were traded Wednesday from teams where they were less than happy. And both are overjoyed to be playing for the Padres.

Whitson came from the New York Yankees, where he got more than his share of Bronx cheers.

LaPoint, a left-hander who was traded to the Padres Wednesday for Mark Thurmond, had a different problem with the Detroit Tigers. In Detroit, it seemed that nobody paid him much attention--including Manager Sparky Anderson.

La Point, who pitched two scoreless innings Thursday, said communication between Anderson and the pitching staff was virtually nonexistent.

"I never figured out how I fit into their plans," LaPoint, 26, said. "They never told me anything. That's a manager's right, if they don't want to talk to you, then they don't have to.

"I've talked to (Steve Boros) more in one day than I did to Sparky in three months. . . . After one day, things are already better."

Said Boros: "I'm quite certain that he will know when he is doing well and when he is doing poorly. We're going to try and make him the best pitcher he can be."

LaPoint said he knew the Tigers were searching for a National League team to make a deal for him, but he had no idea he would be coming to San Diego. He said he prefers pitching in the National League because "I like the strategy (of the managers) and the bigger ballparks."

"I just went to heaven," LaPoint said of his move to San Diego. "Who wouldn't want to pitch out here?

"You can't beat the weather, can't beat the surroundings and right now, you can't beat this club."

Before coming to the Tigers in the off-season, LaPoint pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 1985. He was 7-17 but had a 3.57 earned-run average.

If LaPoint is glad to be out of Detroit, he was exuberant about leaving the Giants and chilly Candlestick Park.

"Last season was a complete disaster (for the Giants, who were 62-100), but I did pitch well," LaPoint said. "With any other team, I could have been 17-7."

This season, LaPoint is 3-6 with a 5.72 ERA in 16 games, eight of which he started.

Boros said LaPoint will relieve for the time being. But if Dave Dravecky, who pitched five innings Thursday, continues to have soreness in his throwing elbow, LaPoint would be the leading candidate to join the starting rotation, according to Boros.

That's what LaPoint wants to do, but, at least for now, he's content to contribute out of the bullpen.

"I've been a starter all my career, but they don't really need a starter," he said. "I just want to play for a winner."

Not only were the Tigers 13 games out of first in the American League East when he was traded, but LaPoint was getting fewer pitching appearances. He need not worry about a lack of work in San Diego, what with Boros' willingness to go to the bullpen.

"It's difficult to use all your pitchers in the American League--I know, I coached there," Boros said. "He'll get used here, though. . . . I like Dave LaPoint. I like the way he does his job."

LaPoint, who has a lifetime record of 33-22 with an ERA of 3.80, said he hopes to stay with the Padres.

"It's important for me to do well," he said. "I want to go out there and show Jack (McKeon, Padre general manager) and Steve (Boros) that I'm the kind of pitcher who can help the Padres.

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