Cox rests his best, gives Phillies' Mulholland start National League notebook

July 13, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

Bobby Cox bypassed the National League's top winner to name Terry Mulholland of the Philadelphia Phillies his starting pitcher in tonight's 64th All-Star Game.

Cox, manager of the Atlanta Braves, chose the left-handed Mulholland (9-6, 2.72 ERA) over San Francisco's John Burkett (13-3, 3.28) essentially because Mulholland was more rested.

"Mulholland's just about leading the NL in ERA, and he's pitching on four days' rest," Cox said yesterday. "Burkett's only had two days. Terry won't have to pitch again until Saturday."

Mulholland has completed six of his 17 starts and walked only 26 in 122 1/3 innings. He admitted he was surprised by the decision, "especially when you compare my won-lost record to John Burkett's and some other people. John did a great job in the first half and deserved to start."

Cox also had some surprises in his batting order. Barry Bonds of the Giants, who leads the NL with 24 homers, will hit second, and John Kruk of the Phillies, with nine homers, will bat cleanup.

"Barry Bonds could hit anywhere in the lineup -- second, third, fourth, fifth -- like he did with the Pirates," Cox said. "He can hit no matter where you put him. This lineup is so potent, you couldn't go wrong if you hit [Philadelphia's Darren] Daulton leadoff."

Kruk as a cleanup hitter? Mulholland had this endorsement of his hard-hitting first baseman: "John's shown some power. He's probably the most unorthodox player on the face of the Earth."

Ready to hit the road

It's a long line that leads out of San Diego these days. Pitcher Andy Benes knows his number will come up as the Padres unload their high-priced help and further reduce the franchise to Triple-A quality.

And he has heard the trade rumors that suggest he'll wind up in Baltimore or Toronto before long.

"I try to be professional about it," said Benes, who leads the NL with a 2.57 ERA and has a 9-6 record for the last-place Padres. "Freddie [McGriff] is going to go in the next couple of weeks before the trade deadline. Tony [Gwynn] is the only one locked in.

"It's tough to play for a team 30 games under .500. You want to play for a team that has an opportunity to win. Here and Toronto, they have a commitment to win. My main focus is to do what I

can to help the team win. I have confidence in my ability."

Benes has 107 strikeouts in 136 1/3 innings, and opposing hitters are batting .204 against him.

Experts on the inside pitch

Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Frank Robinson, who had a few stare-downs between them over their careers, agree that baseball needs to address the rising problem of hitters charging the mound.

"I think the problem today is that the hitters think the pitcher

doesn't have a right to throw at all parts of the plate," said Gibson, the former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who is honorary captain for the NL. "It's almost like it's against the law to throw inside. What I'd do, if I was the commissioner or the league president, is fine a hitter $6 million each time he went out to the mound."

Robinson, a honorary captain for the AL with Jim Palmer, said baseball had its own way of dealing with knockdown pitches in his day.

"I was hit 198 times in my career," Robinson said. "I never went out to the mound once. As long as a guy wasn't throwing above my shoulders, I could accept it. The way you took it out on a pitcher was, you picked yourself out of the dirt and tried to do damage with the bat. If he hit you, the second baseman or BTC shortstop would have to pay.

"I remember putting my spikes into the chest of Daryl Spencer at shortstop one time after I got hit. He asked me what I was doing. I just said, 'Ask your pitcher.' I don't know if you can fine them enough. But something has to be done. The fans don't come to the park to see brawls."

Gibson said no one ever charged him on the mound, although he remembers a brawl in 1968 after Lou Brock stole third base with a 6-0 lead against the Cardinals. But if he pitched today, Gibson said, "I guess I'd be rolling around a lot."

Dazzling Darryl

Darryl Kile is one of the most unlikely success stories at the All-Star Game.

A 30th-round draft pick by the Houston Astros in 1987, the 24-year-old right-hander had a career record in the majors of 12-21 before this season. But in a year when the Astros added established pitchers like Doug Drabek and Greg Swindell, Kile has blossomed into their big winner. His 10-1 record and 2.26 ERA earned him a spot on the NL roster as the Astros' representative.

"I don't think I've done anything," Kile said. "I've had one good half. I look at Lee Smith [of the Cardinals], and he's saved 30 games a year for 15 years. Any success I've had is because of the success the Astros have had."

The journey to big winner? "I believe in myself a little more," he said. "Every game, there's a great play behind me. I'm throwing more strikes, and that's the biggest difference."

Larkin honored

Winner of the 23rd Roberto Clemente Award, Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin accepted the trophy from Vera Clemente and her son, Roberto Jr., yesterday at Camden Yards. The award is presented annually to the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball on and off the field.

Larkin, a Cincinnati native, created the Barry Larkin Foundation to provide funds for youth-oriented programs. Since 1990, he has worked with corporate sponsors to provide funds for health care benefits in the Cincinnati area through his Caring Program for Children. Every time he gets a hit, sponsors make a donation. He has raised more than $400,000 and helped more than 1,700 children receive health care their families could not afford.

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