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BASEBALL EXTRA | AROUND THE NATIONAL LEAGUE

Schilling Gives More Than a Penny's Worth

June 01, 1997|ROSS NEWHAN

Curt Schilling of the Philadelphia Phillies displays a poster of Don Drysdale in his locker and considers himself a throwback to that era when relief pitching wasn't as prevalent or specialized.

Drysdale threw 300 or more innings in four consecutive seasons for the Dodgers starting in 1962. Schilling pitched 235 1/3 in 1993, his career high.

He has been victimized by injuries since, but at 30, with a 7-4 record and ranked first in the National League in strikeouts and second in innings through Friday, he has been every bit a Drysdale-style workhorse.

His 125-pitch, 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night marked the fifth time in 12 starts he had delivered that many pitches. He has averaged 114 and leads the majors in pitches, which has raised concern that it could take a toll later in the season or at some point during the three-year, $15.45-million extension he signed in early April.

"I think about it," Manager Terry Francona said. "If there comes a point where we need to back him off, we will. But he's our horse, one of those special pitchers."

Said Schilling: "I think I'm working hard enough to keep my arm healthy. If I thought it was a concern, I wouldn't do it."

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In the hapless NL Central, where .500 equates to a division lead, the Chicago Cubs have made a modest recovery from their 0-14 start but can't quite get over the hump. They've blown nine chances to turn a two-game win streak into three.

"We're teasers, and worst of all we're teasing ourselves," catcher Scott Servais said.

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The adage in baseball is that you don't make the first or third out of an inning at third base. Colorado Manager Don Baylor criticized ex-Dodger Delino DeShields for making the first out at third on a steal attempt during a recent series against St. Louis, irritating Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa, who pointed out that the Cardinals have the NL's best stolen-base percentage, pressuring the defense into numerous throwing errors.

"I didn't really appreciate Don Baylor talking about our player's strategy," La Russa said. "When your offense is built around pressure on the bases, once in a while you're going to get a throwout. It's the way we play, and Delino has already proven he's got outstanding instincts and judgment."

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With three starting pitchers--Bill Swift, Mark Thompson and Jamey Wright--on the disabled list, along with closer Bruce Ruffin, the Rocky rotation includes only one pitcher (Kevin Ritz) with a full major league season on his resume. . . . Danny Tartabull, who has been on the Phillie disabled list since April 11, is taking batting practice, creating speculation that when he returns it will be in left field, with Gregg Jefferies moving to center and Darren Daulton playing right. Has there ever been an entire outfield equipped with hard hats? . . . Cincinnati Manager Ray Knight, referring to rampant rumors about his firing, said the media is "messing with my life and livelihood" and that he hasn't been treated fairly. "Everything has a negative slant, and I don't like the way it's been going," he said. "I'm going to be here, I know that, and I'll be here three years from now."

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