While the Chicago White Sox are still somewhere in the middle of the pack in the American League West, every team in baseball probably would like to suit up the starting rotation that manager Tony LaRussa has at his command. Undoubtedly you already know the names - right-handers LaMarr Hoyt and Rich Dotson, plus left-handers Britt Burns and Floyd Bannister. Last year, with Seattle, Bannister had the lowest earned run average (3.43) of any southpaw in the league. Floyd, a free agent who signed a five-year, $4.5 million contract with Chicago, should be even more effective working in Comiskey Park, where the fences are almost in the next county.
What could trip up the White Sox, who finished 13th in the AL last year in team defense, is the left side of their infield. The jury is still out on whether rookie shortstop Scott Fletcher can handle major league pitching and whether Vance Law has the quickness and throwing arm to play third base.
Easily the most interesting rookie on the White Sox is outfielder Ron Kittle, who in his last six games has hit four home runs en route to a season-high 14 runs batted in. Last year with Edmonton, a telephone booth-sized minor league park, Kittle had 50 homers and 144 RBIs. Garvey's expensive return
When Steve Garvey returned to Dodger Stadium for the first time this season after signing as a free agent with the San Diego Padres, it cost him $15,000. That's the price of the full page ad Garvey took out in the Los Angeles Times to thank Dodger fans for all the support they had given him over the years. While in LA, of course, Steve played in his 1,118th consecutive game, giving him the NL record previously held by Billy Williams and moving him up to third on baseball's all-time Iron Man list behind Lou Gehrig and Everett Scott. If you're wondering why the Dogers didn't do more to keep Garvey, part of the reason may have been because Steve, in 1982, didn't hit a home run in either April or July or after Sept. 13. Two near-misses in 16 hours
Last Saturday, only 16 hours after Milt Wilcox of the Detroit Tigers one-hit the Chicago White Sox Charlie Lea of the Montreal Expos did the same thing to the Houston Astros. However, Wilcox's effort was more dramatic, the only safety off Milt (by pinch hitter Jerry Hairston) coming with two out in the ninth inning. Lea's bid was spoiled by Houston's Terry Puhl, who got a bloop single in the eighth while falling away from the plate to avoid an inside pitch. . .Trade talks between California and Minnesota for Twins' relief pitcher Ron Davis, who already has three saves this season, are still alive. The holdup is the Angels' reluctance to give up Dick Schofield, the best young shortstop in their minor league farm system. . .When defending NL Cy Young Award winner Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves recently, it was the 71st time that Carlton had struck out 10 or more batters in a game. Unlike most pitchers, Steve prefers an involved series of stretching exercises to keep his legs in shape rather than the traditional method of running between starts in the outfield. Guidry, Gossage struggling
Manager Billy Martin, who wanted to inaugurate his third term at Yankee Stadium with a fast start, so far has been having all kinds of ignition problems with his highly paid New Yorkers. The Yankees haven't been winning as advertised for two reasons: (1) an uncharacteristic flair for leaving runners on base; and (2) subpar performances so far from starter Ron Guidry and ace reliever Goose Gossage, who may have lost a foot or two off his fastball. . .In his first two complete game victories this year for the St. Louis Cardinals, Joaquin Andujar didn't walk a single batter. Going back to last season, including the playoffs and World Series, Andujar has won 12 in a row. . .The unique candor of second baseman Joe Morgan of the Philadelphia Phillies surfaced again recently when he told Sports Illustrated: ''Players are funny. They respect guys who make a lot of money, even if they don't deserve it. The manager is the most important guy on the team, and should be treated on a higher level. Coaches should be highly regarded too, but because of their comparatively low salaries, they're not. I don't think that's fair.''