How Rose's long career took root; Guerrero teeing off at plate
Cincinnati player-manager Pete Rose, closing in on Ty Cobb's all-time major league record of 4,191 hits (he expects to pass the Georgia Peach sometime in August), says he still remembers his first training camp with the Reds in 1963. ``I'd had two good years in a row at Tampa and Macon when the Reds invited me to work out with them in Florida, even though I wasn't part of their roster,'' Rose explained. ``I wasn't expected to make the ball club and I knew that. Nobody got promoted out of the minors then without having played at least a year of both Double-A and Triple-A ball. But at the same time I was going to try to learn as much as I could.
``Anyway, our regulars had an exhibition game coming up against the Chicago White Sox and since I'd worked out all I could that day and would be just hanging around, I thought maybe I'd leave the park early,'' Pete continued. ``I was just about to go into the clubhouse when Mike Ryba [a Reds' coach and former relief pitcher] asked me if I'd like to sit with him in the dugout during the game and go over a few things.''
Rose remembers that it was a long game in which a lot of players saw action and that in the eighth inning Reds' Manager Fred Hutchinson sent him in as a pinch runner.
``Somebody got a hit and I scored the tying run,'' Pete said. ``Then the game goes into extra innings and I get to swing the bat twice and get a hit each time, including the game-winning double in the 14th inning. Anyway, I ended up making the ball club and I've always figured that afternoon had a lot to do with it.''
Asked about pressure and how it affects ballplayers, the switch-hitting Rose replied: ``I only think about pressure when a time element is involved, like in 1978, when I hit safely in 44 consecutive games to break the National League record. There was pressure in that situation because I knew ahead of time that I had to get a hit every day to keep the streak alive.
``But this thing with Ty Cobb is different. I went into the season needing 95 hits to break his record, which isn't a lot of hits for me. I also know that as the manager, I'm going to make sure I get at least 400 at-bats. Because I'm so close to Cobb's record, chasing Ty at this point in my career has been nothing but fun.''
When a reporter asked Rose how he liked wearing two hats, now that he is both a player and a manager, Pete said: ``Take another look. How many hats do you see me wearing right now? The truth is I still think of myself only as a player.''
Pedro Guerrero's 15 home runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers in June set a National League record. However, it merely tied the major league mark shared by Babe Ruth, Bob Johnson, and Roger Maris. During Guerrero's hot streak, which coincided with his being moved from third base to the outfield, Pedro hit a robust .344, drove in 27 runs, and scored 29 runs in 25 games. ``Always there are a lot of things on my mind when I play third base,'' Guerrero said. ``Any time I make an error there, I am not the same batter the next time I go up to hit. I think about my mistake and I don't concentrate like I should at the plate.
``But in the outfield it is different,'' Pedro continued. ``In the outfield you don't have to be so ready all the time. In the outfield I can think hitting while the pitcher is getting ready to throw and even practice my batting stance some times. I will play where the Dodgers tell me, but I prefer the outfield.''
Dodger batting coach Manny Mota also attributes Guerrero's improvement to dropping his hands a little lower before he swings, plus being more selective at the plate. Added Manager Tommy Lasorda: ``I guess there was something helpful in Pedro changing position. What I don't understand is, if he can only hit with power when he plays the outfield, how you explain the 32 home runs he got as a third baseman in 1982!''
Bob Horner, a powerfully built long-ball hitter who physically resembles Harmon Killebrew in his prime, was talking about his switch from third base to first by the Atlanta Braves. ``I didn't ask for it, the way some people have reported, but I'm glad it happened,'' Horner explained. ``I just hope the move is permanent, because I wouldn't like the idea of switching back and forth. I prefer to concentrate on one thing at a time. ``Since I started to hit a lot better right after making the move, writers seem to think that had something to do with it,'' Bob observed. ``Well, it didn't. I've always hit when the weather got hot and I'm often uncomfortable at the plate when the weather is cold.''
Rookie Braves' Manager Eddie Haas says he moved Bob to first because he couldn't afford to let another good hitter like Ken Oberkfell rust on the bench.
From baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth on himself: ``The reason I meet with so many people in so many areas of baseball is because I know I can learn something from all of them. I think it's important to hear firsthand what people in the game have to say. I even like meeting with the umpires. Before I became commissioner I had been a season-ticket holder at Dodger Stadium for 16 years and I got out to the ballpark just as often as I could.''