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Baseball / Ross Newhan : Kansas City Players Expect to Be on Royal Route to West Title

March 08, 1987|Ross Newhan

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — At tention Angels, Texas Rangers and Oakland A's:

Buoyed by the acquisition of Danny Tartabull and Juan Beniquez and confident of a comeback by Bret Saberhagen and the other members of a touted pitching staff that carried the Kansas City Royals to a World Series championship in 1985, George Brett said of the American League's West Division race:

"There's no reason why we shouldn't win it.

"In fact, we're a lock if everyone plays up to their capability."

Said player-coach Hal McRae:

"I think we're 10 games better with the same personnel just because guys aren't on Cloud 9 anymore (in the wake of the World Series). Like they say, the taller the pole the harder the wind blows, and it felt like a hurricane up there last year."

Willie Wilson concurred.

"A lot of guys are upset," he said. "They didn't like the years they had and didn't get the money they wanted.

"There's something in the way I feel--mean and nasty. I've felt that way all winter.

"Last year we rode on '85. You can't ride on last year's pride."

Attention Dodgers: It may be that he's just needling the New York Mets, which he likes to do, but St. Louis Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog says that the Philadelphia Phillies will win the National League's East Division race if they sign Lance Parrish.

Either way, Herzog said, the Cincinnati Reds should have an easier time winning in the West than the Mets will in attempting to repeat in the East.

"There might be a new Big Red Machine on the horizon," Herzog said. "They should win that division for the next three years if Mario Soto and Tom Browning are healthy."

Soto, 5-10 last year, is coming back from arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Browning, 20-9 in 1985, was 14-13 last year and a victim of limited support.

Herzog's high regard for the Reds is based on their wealth of young talent, led by Eric Davis.

"He has more ability than Darryl Strawberry, and Strawberry is awesome." Herzog said.

Cardinal shortstop Ozzie Smith reported at 164 pounds, up 20. Smith and the San Francisco Giants' Will Clark worked with New Orleans weight trainer Macki Shilstone, who lists Manute Bol and Michael Spinks among his disciples.

Said Herzog: "I've got a strange club. Willie McGee comes in with his hair in curls, Vince Coleman has no hair (he shaved his scalp), and Ozzie has muscles he never had before. He thinks he's Charles Atlas."

Of the weights craze, Herzog said: "I doubt that Hank Aaron or Stan Musial or Ted Williams lifted any weights. Now all these guys have more muscles than Aaron, Musial or Williams. The only problem is they can't hit the ball half as far or half as often as Aaron, Musial or Williams."

Randy and Alan Hendricks, the highly regarded agents who represent Boston Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens, attended Saturday's game between the Royals and Rangers at the Rangers' spectacular new training complex here.

Randy Hendricks said that the desire to protect an unsigned player from the risk of injury was a serious aspect of the decision to have Clemens leave camp, but the overriding factor "was to send a message to the Red Sox that Roger won't accept less than he deserves just because he can't go to arbitration."

Hendricks said the owners' attempt to roll back salaries is akin to a morality play in two acts: 1--The conspiracy in regard to the signing of free agents; 2--The hard-line approach with players who do not have three years of major league service and are not eligible for arbitration.

"The Red Sox have told us that the market has changed, that there are new numbers now," Hendricks said. "Well, Roger is the most critical negotiation among the young players.

"If we go for the $500,000 that the Red Sox are offering, then the market has indeed changed. If they go for our $1 million, then the market hasn't changed for MVP and Cy Young Award winners, players who are critical to a team's success."

Clemens, who made $340,000 last year, had hoped to get $1.32 million. Met pitcher Dwight Gooden earns $1.5 million.

Hendricks said it is up to the Red Sox to call, and that Clemens is prepared to wait it out.

"He should be a Marine," Hendricks said, alluding to the intensity with which Clemens keeps himself in shape. "They can fine him and suspend him. It won't change our position."

Sparky Anderson laid down the law on the first day of camp. Don't use the absence of Lance Parrish as a cop-out, he told the Detroit Tigers.

Have the Tigers followed instructions?

"The thing I'm proudest about is that so far there hasn't been one word," Anderson said.

Wrong. Kirk Gibson used seven words in regard to Parrish.

"If he ain't here, he's the enemy," Gibson said.

Enemy?

Never, Sparky said. He said that he and Parrish continue to exchange salutations through friends. "As soon as he does anything, I'll call him," Sparky said. "He knows how I feel about him. Nothing will change that."

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