So far, Jays crowing over Clemens-to-Yankees deal

On Baseball

April 25, 1999|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

It's early, but the Toronto Blue Jays have got to be thinking that they got the better of the blockbuster deal that sent five-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens to the mighty New York Yankees for David Wells, reliever Graeme Lloyd and second baseman Homer Bush.

Let me count the ways:

Wells entered the weekend with a 3-0 record and a 2.55 ERA in his first three starts. Clemens isn't doing too bad, either, at 2-0, but his ERA is a less-impressive 4.07.

Lloyd has moved into a co-closer role and has two saves and an 0.93 ERA for the Blue Jays. The Yankees are still trying to fill the void he left in their bullpen.

The Blue Jays arrived in New York for their weekend series against the Yankees as the winningest team in the major leagues at 12-4.

Of course, it's a long season, but the Blue Jays have gained enough confidence from their strong start to believe they can compete with the Yankees all year. That might be a stretch, but the Jays have a solid starting rotation and a dynamic young offensive lineup. If they can stay on a roll, who knows what might happen?

If nothing else, they have proved that their amazing recovery in the second half of the 1998 season was no fluke. They were 32-15 during the final seven weeks of the season to finish 88-74 -- no small feat after dismantling the veteran nucleus of the team at midseason.

The key player in the Clemens deal may have been Lloyd, who has balanced a young and unproven Blue Jays bullpen. He was the league's premier left-handed setup man for the Yankees last year, but has assumed an expanded role in Toronto.

Wells, however, will be the one who is compared to Clemens all season. So far, he has held his own quite nicely.

Fair isn't always fair

No doubt, National League president Len Coleman was trying to be even-handed when he handed down disciplinary action in the wake of last week's ugly melee between the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, but it didn't end up that way.

The brawl began when Giants infielder Charlie Hayes charged the mound from second base to get at Todd Stottlemyre, admitting later that he just doesn't like the Diamondbacks starter and wanted to hurt him.

Hayes was ejected from the game, suspended and fined $2,000, which probably was the appropriate punishment. Stottlemyre was ejected from the game and fined $2,000 -- the lack of a suspension supposedly reflecting his lesser role in the incident.

Trouble is, Stottlemyre didn't do anything that warranted any disciplinary action. His only real offense was to answer back after Hayes -- frustrated at his 0-for-13 lifetime record against the veteran pitcher -- began mouthing off at him from first base.

Hayes attacked him and Stottlemyre ended up getting fined for getting attacked.

"What was he supposed to do, run away?" said Diamondbacks reliever Gregg Olson.

Good question.

Olson bounces back

Olson finally got his first save of 1999 after blowing three opportunities during the first week of the season. He struck out two in the final inning of Wednesday night's victory over the Philadelphia Phillies and was reanointed as Arizona's full-time closer.

"I felt like all the monkeys that jumped on my back the first three games -- pitches that weren't called, strange things that happened I felt I had some normalcy back," he said.

Wohlers update

The strange saga of reliever Mark Wohlers may have taken a turn for the better. Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Don Gullett corrected what he felt was a mechanical flaw in Wohlers' delivery recently and reportedly is seeing good results.

"When I did what he was asking me to do, the ball came out great, and it was right in the strike zone," Wohlers said. "Now, it's just a matter of continuing that, getting that muscular memory down and, when I do get out of whack mechanically, recovering much quicker."

If that's all it was, the Braves' coaching staff is going to have some explaining to do, but the proof is in the actual pitching. Wohlers has not yet thrown a competitive pitch for the Reds.

Ramirez finds his voice

The normally withdrawn Manny Ramirez has found a way to communicate with the outside world. The Cleveland Indians slugger has been wearing batting practice shoes with cryptic messages printed on the heels.

Tuesday, one shoe said "Justice will be served." The other read, "There will be hell to pay."

Wednesday, it was "Free me" and "Live and let die."

Ramirez does not talk to the reporters covering the Indians, so no one knows for sure what this is all about, but it apparently has something to do with his unresolved contract situation.

"Manny is saying, `Show me the money,' " teammate Sandy Alomar said. "He wants to get paid."

Ramirez, who has become the Indians' top offensive threat, makes a relatively modest $4 million this year and is locked up for $4.25 next season. He wants to negotiate an extension, but Indians officials are in no hurry to tear up a bargain contract.

Torre almost ready

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