Barry Bonnell of the Toronto Blue Jays, a lifetime .261 hitter who once reached .300 as a part-time outfielder with Atlanta, has a quick explanation for the .400 average he had up to a week ago.
''For the first time in my career I haven't been trying to pull every pitch, '' Bonnell said. ''Now, instead of an alley, I've got a whole field in which to spray the ball around.''
One way to get the trade winds howling in major league baseball is to publicly criticize your manager or the organization that employs you.
Outfielder Jack Clark may have bought himself a ticket to San Diego recently by calling the people who own the San Francisco Giants a bunch of losers. And Bill Buckner didn't make any points with Chicago Cubs Manager Lee Elia last week when he told one of Elia's pitchers to throw at certain opposing hitters. The only safe one in the group might be outfielder Mike Vail, who after knocking Cincinnati Manager John McNamara for not playing him, had the good sense to hit a game-winning home run after McNamara stuck him into the Reds' lineup.
Pitcher LaMarr Hoyt, who won his first nine games for the Chicago White Sox this season before losing, throws one of the best cut fastballs in the American League, a pitch that tails away from right-handed hitters. Hoyt is also extremely good at putting batters off stride by changing speeds on them.
One reason for the Houston Astros' skid this season can be traced to losing 13 of their first 22 games in the Astrodome, where they are usually invincible. . . . Manager Gene Mauch of the California Angels will do almost anything to get his club a lead. Mauch will even bunt with a man on first base and nobody out in his team's opening inning. The Angels have already sacrificed more than 45 times this season.
The Cleveland Indians are attributing their seven-game winning streak to the hot hitting of Andre Thornton, who leads the majors in runs batted in. . . . The same day (May 25) pitcher Jim Palmer got his 250th win for the Baltimore Orioles , Ferguson Jenkins got his 3,000th career strikeout for the Chicago Cubs. . . . Come August the US Postal Department will issue a commemorative stamp bearing the likeness of Jackie Robinson.