Ryan may miss next start with hurt finger

May 05, 1991

Nolan Ryan may have to wait a while to see whether he can join Johnny Vander Meer as the only major-league pitcher to throw consecutive no-hitters.

And the Toronto Blue Jays -- the victims of Ryan's seventh no-hitter -- may be spared another meeting with the Texas Rangers right-hander because of cracked skin on the middle finger of his pitching hand.

Rangers manager Bobby Valentine said Friday night that Ryan's next start -- scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday in Toronto -- could be delayed.

Valentine said he won't be concerned about having Ryan extra healthy to try to match Vander Meer's consecutive no-hit record of 1939. He'll simply listen to Ryan, who only wants to be healthy enough to make a start.

"You don't even consider it [another no-hitter]," Ryan said. "It's no different than any other start, and you never go out there planning to throw one."

The middle finger is especially important to Ryan in throwing his curveball, which worked so well early in Wednesday night's no-hitter. The ball's stitches roll off that finger during the release, and it probably caused him more trouble than usual in warm weather.

One reason the umpire kept checking the baseballs Wednesday was that Ryan's finger was bleeding and marking the ball. Ryan was licking the finger to keep the skin from drying out, but an umpire told him he had to wipe the wetness off his finger before throwing or it would be an illegal pitch.

Ryan struck out 16 Blue Jays in the 3-0 victory in Arlington, Texas.

* YANKEES: Owner George Steinbrenner isn't the defendant, but his credibility has been on trial in the prosecution of a gambler who caused Steinbrenner's retreat from baseball.

A jury in Manhattan's federal court must decide whether Steinbrenner was the victim of Howard Spira's threats to ruin his reputation.

After a month of testimony, lawyers in the attempted extortion case against Spira will present closing arguments tomorrow.

Steinbrenner, who agreed to give up control of the Yankees last summer because of his dealings with Spira, was a key witness for the prosecution.

He testified for three days, mostly under the unyielding and sarcastic cross-examination by defense attorney David S. Greenfield.

The climax came when Steinbrenner choked back tears as he described how Spira relentlessly peppered him and his family with phone calls in his quest for money.

"You're not much of a person if you don't get emotional over your wife, your kids, your mother -- your 87-year-old mother," he said the next day.

Greenfield tried to make Steinbrenner's credibility an issue with the jury. He asked why Steinbrenner got involved with Spira in the first place given Spira's history of gambling and why Spira's demands, which dated to 1987, were not reported to authorities until February 1990.

* MAYS: Hall of Famer Willie Mays, the "Say Hey Kid," turns 60 tomorrow. And baseball is still a part of his life.

"I manage to keep busy," Mays said. "I enjoy working with the kids in spring training. Guys like Kevin Mitchell."

After retiring in 1973, Mays kept busy with a real estat business, public relations jobs and coaching for the Giants in spring training. His title now for the San Francisco Giants is special assistant to the president and general manager.

* PIRATES: Outfielder Bobby Bonilla said he hasn't been taking any heat from fans for seeking a bigger contract from the club. "I'll be at the store or stopping for gas and people will tell me to hang in there," Bonilla said. "A guy will tell me to roll down the window and then tell me not to leave. When stuff like that #F happens, how can you not play hard for people like that?"

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