Hip to all questions, Bo set to answer them

August 23, 1991|By Alan Solomon | Alan Solomon,Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- The questions are still there. Most are basic.

Can Bo Jackson, with a left hip that will never be what it was, swing at a baseball, explode out of the batter's box and run, with reasonable speed, to first base?

Can he round second base and push off the bag for third without reinjuring himself?

Can he overcome instinct and slide on his right hip to spare the tender left one?

Will a checked swing finish him? Will a pitch at his chin send him sprawling and undo months of tedious therapy?

Will the bad hip restrict his approach to a pitch and impede him as a hitter?

No one knows for sure, not even Jackson. Some answers may come tomorrow night in Sarasota. Others may take longer.

To this point, whatever can be done has been done.

Chicago White Sox trainer Herm Schneider has been with Jackson, on and off, since the free-agent outfielder was signed in the fading days of spring training. In recent weeks, the White Sox trainer and his star patient have been together almost daily, for hours.

He won't be with Jackson in Sarasota, and he won't be with him in Birmingham. Not physically. But he'll be there.

If anyone has a clue of what to expect, it's Schneider.

"Getting out of the box is not difficult," he said. "Running to first is not going to be difficult. I would say maybe going from first to third could be a little bit difficult. He's going to have to feel that out, because he's not sure about how sharp a turn he can take.

"That'll come with doing it and feel. He's done it. We did it plenty on the last road trip. In every city, we did it every day."

Sliding. He has done that.

"He's slid into second," said Schneider. "He's slid into third."

"That's no problem," Jackson said. At home? "I'll just have to do whatever I can to get to the bag, whether it's sliding or dodging somebody or just running over the catcher."

"Either he's going to slide," said Schneider, "or he's going to knock somebody into kingdom come."

But doing it for Schneider, or for conditioning coach Steve Odgers, under controlled situations isn't the same as doing it in a game. A running back dodging pylons in Lake Forest -- pardon the sports mixed-metaphor -- isn't the same as a running back dodging actual, no-mercy linebackers in, say, Soldier Field.

Jackson understands all that.

"You have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run," said Jackson, "and I'm just getting to the walking stage right now. I've had a long, hard rehab, and it's not over yet."

Tomorrow, when he steps in for the first time against a pitcher paid to make him look foolish, should be interesting.

"I'll probably be nervous," Jackson said. "I haven't been nervous yet, but I expect there'll be a few butterflies."

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