Former teen phenom Robin Yount still a star; Phils cut Carlton
Back in 1982, the year he was voted the American League's Most Valuable Player, there probably wasn't a better all-around shortstop in baseball than Robin Yount of the Milwaukee Brewers. That was the same year that Milwaukee took the St. Louis Cardinals to seven games in the World Series, with Yount batting a robust .414. His stature in the game shouldn't have surprised anybody, because here was a kid who had become a big league regular in 1974 at age 18 -- not yet mature as a hitter but potentially good enough in the field that the Brewers were going to play him no matter what.Skip to next paragraph
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This Robin was a rare bird indeed, a youngster who could snap handcuffs on thunderbolts. And with his quick bat, all it took was a little time to build strength and confidence before he began accumulating eye-opening offensive statistics. The year the Brewers won the pennant he batted .331, collected 210 hits, boomed 29 home runs, and drove in 114 runs.
Certainly other top players have accomplished as much in a single season. Usually, however, they are outfielders or first basemen, occasionally a third baseman, but seldom a shortstop.
Well, it almost ended for Yount and Milwaukee in 1984 when he injured his shoulder and could no longer make the long, hard throws his position regularly called for. Until things got better for him physically, the Brewers put him in the outfield, where they could keep his bat in the lineup without putting a lot of extra pressure on his shoulder.
So far the problem that has stopped him from going back to the infield is still there. But in the meantime Yount has become a crack defensive outfielder whose hitting (always more than satisfactory) has suddenly returned to the outstanding level.
At last look, in fact, Robin had zoomed into second place in the AL averages, at .365, and is also among his team's leaders in RBIs.
Thirteen years ago, when Yount first joined Milwaukee, he carried only 170 pounds on a 6-foot frame. Although he's 10 pounds heavier now, he still looks lean, except for muscular arms that explain his power.
Robin, now 30, should have his 2,000th career hit by the end of this season and a chance for 3,000 if he continues to play another six or seven years, which is entirely possible.
Asked by reporters if he had any specific goals, Yount replied that his philosophy is simply to take each new day as it comes. And while that no-emotion face of his is saying one thing to the world, he is perfectly willing to admit that the competitive fires that burn inside him are never banked.
Despite a Brewers' youth movement that has made the club respectable again after two years of sub-.500 baseball, management still looks at Yount as a big part of its future. Royals' Howser puzzled
Even though the Kansas City Royals are baseball's defending World Series champions, they have done little so far this season to indicate that they are interested in repeating.
Why do the Royals always seem to stumble through the first half of the year, then come on strong the minute baseball's midseason All-Star Game goes into the record books?
``I have no idea how to answer that question,'' Kansas City manager Dick Howser told me. ``I've heard a few theories, like the bad weather we get in the Midwest in April and May disrupting our pitching and hitting. But I've never bought that theory, and I'm not about to start now. All I know is that good teams eventually find themselves.