In professional baseball, pitchers are notoriously weak hitters. They only bat once every four or five games in the National League, and almost never in the American, where the designated hitter rule was designed to keep these easy outs on the bench. Not every pitcher, of course, is a pushover. San Diego's Tim Lollar certainly is not.
The Padres' left-hander started the season with a seven-game hitting streak and currently is batting .308 with two homers. ''Actually he's in a bit of a slump right now,'' says Bob Chandler, San Diego's director of public relations. ''As word's gotten out about his hittzo itchers have begun to work on him more. He's still hitting the ball, but has gone 0-for-8 recently.''
''I feel I could both pitch and DH in the American League,'' says Lollar, an All-America designated hitter in college at Arkansas. ''I did it in the minors and was scouted at Arkansas as both a hitter and pitcher. But I saw my chances were better to move up as a pitcher.''
Move up he has. Last year the Yankees traded him to San Diego, where he got his opportunity, but went 2-8. He sharpened his control playing winter ball in Venezuela, and now boasts a 5-0 record with two shutouts. A slider and 94 m.p.h. fastball are his bread and butter.
Not long ago, he used them to blank the streaking Phillies. In that game, Pete Rose struck out looking at three pitches, something he couldn't remembered doing. ''Hitting against Lollar was like going against Steve Carlton on a good day,'' Rose said.