For Schilling, no addition a minus sign for Phillies

ON BASEBALL

August 08, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

If the Philadelphia Phillies fail to reach the postseason, it will be interesting to hear Curt Schilling's reaction. The Phillies ace said in Schilling May that he would be "very unhappy" if the club found itself in contention and failed to improve before the waiver deadline. The Phillies began this weekend four games behind the Atlanta Braves in the wild-card chase and having done nothing before the deadline.

"I'm incredibly disappointed," Schilling said. "I was just sure we were going to get something done. The way things were going, I was certain something would happen."

Speculation about a deal for New York Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte only further inflamed the situation. The Phillies reportedly offered three prospects to the Yankees for Pettitte. The Yankees intended to deal the prospects to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for closer Roberto Hernandez. When Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar balked, the deal unraveled.

"I got excited," Schilling said. "Obviously, Pettitte was the guy everybody was looking at. And when you start looking at Andy Pettitte on your team, it eliminates a lot of moves you have to make. He's a guy who really seemed to fit into what we're trying to do. It's just disappointing."

The NL East-leading New York Mets and the Braves both made significant moves. The Braves acquired nomadic left-hander Terry Mulholland and utility player Jose Hernandez from the Chicago Cubs. The Mets packaged center fielder Brian McRae and rookie pitcher Rigo Beltran to the Colorado Rockies for left-handed reliever Chuck McElroy and outfielder Darryl Hamilton.

Asked if he thought it would be difficult for the Phillies to remain in contention after failing to make a move, Schilling said "common sense would say yes. We'll find out in the next eight weeks."

2,000 for Grace

Chicago Cubs first baseman Mark Grace reached 2,000 hits on Monday when he singled off the Montreal Expos' Dustin Hermanson in the ninth inning of a 5-1 loss. Though it's not the equal of Mark McGwire's 500th home run, Cal Ripken's pending 400th or the 3,000 hits by Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs, Grace's milestone may be his last with the Cubs, which makes it pretty significant.

"This is a big milestone for me personally. For it to come in this uniform, the only organization I've ever known, minor leagues included. For a 24th-round draft pick, I think I've done pretty well. I was never supposed to get one hit in the big leagues," said the San Diego State alumnus.

Grace, 35, became the eighth Cub to produce 2,000 hits. He also enjoys enough service time to veto any trade -- Grace says he was never approached about a possible deal to the Atlanta Braves -- and is scheduled to become a free agent after this season when he will likely seek at least $6 million per season. The Cubs have not approached that figure so far. Grace, meanwhile, isn't bashful about saying he prefers to stay in Chicago and eventually get 2,500 hits.

"Twenty-five hundred hits would be a pretty good accomplishment," he said, "and I think that's awfully attainable. But who knows if it's going to happen in this uniform."

Standing pat -- again

Indians general manager John Hart has taken moderate heat for again refusing to make a deadline deal. However, he has his reasons.

Before last Saturday's waiver deadline, Hart mulled trading for Anaheim Angels left-hander Chuck Finley, the Orioles' Arthur Rhodes, Juan Guzman and Harold Baines, Seattle Mariners first baseman David Segui and Tampa Bay Devil Rays first baseman Fred McGriff.

However, because almost any deal would have had to include utility man Enrique Wilson, he backed off. Good non-move. The playoff-bound Indians are concerned whether third baseman Travis Fryman's injured right knee will allow his return next month. If not, Wilson will hold onto the position.

The Indians, meanwhile, have righted themselves after beginning the second half with a 2-9 skid. Their 7-2 recovery coincided with a return to AL Central competition.

Junior on Senior

The controversy surrounding Ken Griffey Sr.'s insistence that his son would remain with the Seattle Mariners beyond 2000 created a huge swirl in Seattle last weekend. While the Mariners were pounding the Orioles, Griffey Jr. was trying to stave off unwanted attention by denying the quote.

"Why would he tell me to keep quiet about my situation here and then say something like that? This is awkward for the team, it's awkward for Lou [Piniella] and it's awkward for me," Junior insisted. "He's been in the game almost 30 years. You really think he'd say something like that?"

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