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Carrasco Discovers He's Already Taken A Slide-Step Back


Life was going so well for reliever Hector Carrasco, previously long on velocity and short on control in a so-far so-so career. Traded from moribund Minnesota, he went to Boston for the pennant race. Ultimately, he planned to take his 95-mph fastball and newfound control to the free-agent market.

He arrived in Boston and happily told writers that his command had improved dramatically, and that he owed his fresh, bright future to his new slide-step delivery.

Amused, the writers told Carrasco the Red Sox do not allow their pitchers to use the slide-step, believing it causes undo arm strain.

Carrasco's response?


Paper or plastic? According to officials in Cincinnati, unused and unneeded raw materials from razed Cinergy Field will be recycled into new highways, parks and buildings.

So, that new park bench downtown?

Constructed from the remains of Ken Griffey Jr.'s dilapidated batting average.

The new fire house in Indian River?

Made in part from Jack McKeon's 1999 NL Manager of the Year trophy.

It's all about the environment.

Blair pitch project: Struck in the jaw by a Julio Franco line drive three years ago, Detroit pitcher Willie Blair was disturbed when he saw friend Bryce Florie hit in the eye last week. Blair admitted he shivered at his own ghastly memories.

"There's a fear of how bad it really is," Blair said. "I actually had some thoughts I might die from that. That's how much pain there is."

Shake yourself: If Darryl Strawberry would take a moment away from himself and take a hard look at his former team, he'd notice pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre isn't there. Stottlemyre left the Yankees this week to deal again with his bone marrow cancer.

Like many suffering from the disease, Stottlemyre has forged ahead. It is sad, but he is strong and he has coped with unusual poise, just as many like him have.

Not Straw, though.

Straw goes to swinger clubs and falls off the wagon and picks up hookers who turn out to be police officers and holds his brother-in-law's cocaine in his wallet and screws up his medication and hits and runs--not the baseball kind--and is put under house arrest and every time mumbles the same excuse: It's the chemotherapy.

He is sick. He is in pain. But, it's called dignity.

His problems are behind him: Oakland closer Jason Isringhausen pitched poorly for enough of the summer to cause concern among the A's, but it appears Izzy has found a mechanical flaw that can be, uh, rectified.

"I just had to get my head out of my butt," he said after a scoreless inning this week. "I'm still capable of doing what I did tonight."

The Pitts: The first line in a game story out of Pittsburgh on Thursday: "Maybe Three Rivers Stadium cannot close fast enough for these Pirates."

Gee. You think?

And you wonder why ESPN can't count the money fast enough.

Arnold's drivin' him crazy: In our Where Are They Now segment, an update on pitcher Jamie Arnold, who's having the same impact in Chicago that he did in L.A.:

Arnold had an early lead Wednesday, blew it all and then some, and then had Cub Manager Don Baylor air him out to Mother's and back.

"A 2-0 lead turns into a fiasco," fumed Baylor, who knows a full-blown fiasco when he's managing one. "I'm not going to keep running [Arnold] out there. If guys don't want to take advantage of an opportunity, it goes to the next guy."

Uh, Ismael Valdes is available.

The Marshall Manifesto: Mike Marshall, the former Dodger pitcher, has written a book that is available only on the Internet. Kansas City pitching coach Brent Strom recently discovered it, downloaded it and has begun the process of wading through Marshall's mind.

Apparently, it's been quite the little journey.

"I wanted to see what he had to say," Strom told The Kansas City Star. "Now, I haven't gotten through all of it, but some of it reads like Kaczynski's manifesto."

That would be the noted hardball specialist Theodore Kaczynski.

The Unabomber.

Indefensible: Cub President Andy MacPhail picked a funny time to tweak first baseman Mark Grace, a free agent to be and the class of a largely laughable organization.

According to Grace's agent, Barry Axelrod, MacPhail denigrated Grace's defense in a discussion designed to establish the groundwork for a new contract.

Afterward, according to the Chicago Tribune, MacPhail asked Grace if he wanted to meet. Grace turned him down because he felt there was no good reason.

"Other than march into his office with an Uzi, I can't think of anything else," Grace said.

Probably best that he passed, then.

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