Hired gun Cone may consider hanging his holster in Toronto

October 19, 1992|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

ATLANTA -- In the Old West, when someone did what David Cone is doing for the Toronto Blue Jays, they called him a hired gun.

And, make no mistake, the Blue Jays have Cone, their starting pitcher in Game 2 of the World Series, to do what the gunfighters did 100 years ago. Namely, get the bad guys out.

Cone misfired last night, allowing four runs and five hits in just 4 1/3 innings in Toronto's 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

He went 2-for-2, and he drove in a run as Toronto rallied to a 2-2 tie in the top of the fifth. But the Braves then scored two runs -- both charged to Cone -- in the bottom of the inning.

"It was real disappointing to ignite a rally to get us in the ballgame and then come back and give up two runs," Cone said. "It's not what I wanted to do. I lost my aggressiveness."

Cone, 29, will be a free agent after the World Series, able to offer his services to the highest bidder. Yet he may actually want to stick around with Toronto. It seems he has taken a bit of a hankering to his new surroundings and if the price is right, well, he might just settle in the North for a spell.

"The city has been terrific," he said. "The fan support throughout the playoffs has been amazing. I've never heard a crowd as loud as the one at Game 2 in the playoffs. They're tremendously supportive. It's a great organization and well run. I'm just happy to be a part of them right now."

He also knows he won't be the last hired gun to move from an also-ran to a contender. "When you see a guy like Jose Canseco being moved, then you pretty much feel that anybody is [available]," Cone said.

Cone, who is rumored to be considering heading to the New York Yankees, was traded by the New York Mets to Toronto on Aug. 27, just four days before postseason rosters were set. It was seen as a push by the Blue Jays to put distance between themselves and the Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers in the American League East.

And it worked. Cone went 4-3 with a 2.65 ERA in the American League.

With Jack Morris, Saturday night's Game 1 loser, and a healthy Juan Guzman, who will start Game 3 in Toronto tomorrow, Cone got the Blue Jays their division title and their first AL pennant, winning Game 2 of the AL playoffs over Oakland, 6-2, but losing Game 5.

Still, Cone said he has only recently started to feel that he's more than just a pitcher for hire.

"I'd like to think as far as an audition goes, that my track record for six years speaks for itself," Cone said. "This is a difficult situation. You have a real chance to pyramid your value if you do well.

"I have to be honest and admit that the ultimate is to be with the team the entire year and feel like you are really a major reason why or a major contributor to the cause from spring training on," he said.

"When we did win the pennant, and again in the celebration afterward, several players and [general manager] Pat Gillick came up to me and told me comments along the line of 'Thank you, we could not have made it here without you.' That made me really feel special. It made me feel a part of the team."

Dealt to the Mets from Kansas City in 1987, Cone was one of the National League's dominant pitchers, winning 20 games in 1988, and striking out more batters than any NL pitcher during that span.

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