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September 28, 1988 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-28

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Page 12 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 28, 1988

Ontiveros struggles with
season-ending injury


If you watched the evening news
last week, you probably saw the
footage of the Oakland Athletics
pouring Dom Perignon on each
other, smiling and celebrating their
American League Western division
As Robin Leach would say, the
A's season has been one where
champagne wishes and caviar dreams
have come true.
Somewhere in the middle of
Steve Ontiveros' dream, Freddie
Kruger came in and wreaked havoc
on his pitching arm. The former
Michigan star has been on the
disabled list twice this season, and
has not pitched for the A's since
early August.
You probably didn't see him in
the champagne party the A's were
having, because he wasn't there.
WHILE the rest of his team-
mates were able to coast their way to
the AL West crown, Ontiveros has
spent most of the season on the
bench. He has had to appreciate the
thrill of playing professional base-
ball from afar.
"I never really imagined how big
league life would be," said
Ontiveros, "but I know that it's a
gratifying experience. After being
disabled, you begin to appreciate
some of the things you overlooked,
like being out on the mound, and
helping your team."
Having to watch and not help his
teammates has taken some of the
glory away from Ontiveros' season.
Nevertheless, Ontiveros has tried to
keep perspective on his opportunity
to do what most people can only
dream about.
"There's a tendency to look at

baseball as a job," said Ontiveros.
"It is a job, but it should be a lot of
fun along with that. This year has
been a lot of fun, excluding the
disabling injury."
AFTER two and a half generally
injury-free seasons, tendinitis in his
right elbow has held Ontiveros to
only ten starts this season. His
Alumni Update
record was 3-4 with a 4.61 ERA
before he went on the DL for good.
Not only does Ontiveros have to
deal with the frustration of missing
the playoffs, but this injury has
forced him to reevaluate his career.
"When I left college I was a
power pitcher, I threw in the high
80's, low-90's, with that good curve
ball," said Ontiveros. "But now I've
lost some on the fastball. I think
that's due to my mechanics. I know
I have a breaking ball that nobody
can hit. I used to wait until I have
two strikes to throw it, but now I
have to change my pitching
A's teammate, reliever Eric
Plunk, is one of Ontiveros' closest
friends. Yet the fellow pitcher has
had a difficult time consoling his
injured comrade.
"I can sympathize with Steve,"
said Plunk, who himself was on the
DL for a while this season. "It's hard
to know what you are capable of
doing, and not be able to do it. It
feels like an injustice being hurt."
While trying not to dwell on his
disappointing season, Ontiveros is
trying to regain the attitude that
elevated him to a Rookie-of-the-Year
candidate in 1985.

"I NEED TO believe in myself
more," said Ontiveros. "I believed in
myself in '85, and I had great
concentration. Then I broke down in
those phases, it certainly isn't be-
cause of my talent or my ability to
pitch. It's all mental. Once your
confidence goes, you're going to
have to go through some serious
rough waters until you hit that game
which brings you back."
Ontiveros is already making plans
for his return to the mound. Even
though he can't play, Ontiveros can
practice things that can improve his
"Since I've been on the DL, I've
been working to find the groove for
me mechanically," said Ontiveros.
"Up until now, every pitch I've
thrown in the big leagues has been
thrown as hard as I can. I've come to
the point, especially with this
injury, where I may not be able to
"Before I went on the disabled
list, I was confident in everything I
was going to do. Now, it's a matter
of faith, and knowing that you can
do it. I'm going to try and pick up
from where I left off."
Ontiveros' changing attitude
might be the best medication he can
find. Those closest to him like his
chances, not only to return to the
A's, but also to be successful.
"He has the personality to
comeback," said Plunk. "There is no
question that he has the ability."
"He has had the fortitude to work
his way through injuries before,"
said Michigan coach Bud Middaugh.
"He'll be able to handle the
adversity. If he can comeback, then
he will."


/File Photo
Ex-Wolverine pitcher Steve Ontiveros is having a rough time with his current team, the
Oakland Athletics. While the A's have won their division, Ontiveros has been excluded from
the celebration due to an elbow injury that has sidelined him since August 1.

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reacts to

TORONTO (AP) - Ben Johnson, the
Toronto sprinter who elated Canadians by
winning the 100-meter dash at the Olympics,
again drew an outpouring of emotion from his
adopted land after he was stripped of his gold
medal for using drugs.
"It puts a dent in Canada," said Scott
Shaw, a 10th grader in Calgary, Alberta.
Canadians watched the Jamaican-born
Johnson shoot to a 9.79-second world record
in the 100-meter race Saturday and win Canada
its first gold medal in Seoul.
But today, a disappointed nation awaited

the return of the burly sprinter after a urin
sample was found to contain traces of anabol
steroids. Johnson, who was disqualified fro
the Olympic Games on Monday and stripp
of the gold medal, was to return to Toron
this afternoon.
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, wh
Saturday thanked Johnson for the "thrill of
lifetime" in a nationally-televised telephon
call to Seoul, said his disqualifcation was'
moment of sorrow for all Canadians."
Calling the incident "a national embar
assment," Sports Minister Jean Charest sa

ne Johnson will be banned from Canada's me in a private way - and this happened one or
ic national team for life. two times... that maybe Ben Johnson is using
m "A few days ago, Canada had the steroids or other drugs," Charest said, adding
ed opportunity of having a great day of national that the sprinter was aware he would be tested
to pride," Charest told reporters. He said his at the Olympics.
government accepted the validity of the tests "I don't believe he did it on purpose. He
o and the suspensions would be effective pen- hasn't got the guile to do that," said Fergus
a ding an appeal from Johnson. Kilmartin, 36, of Coquitlam, British Col-
ie "Johnson knew what the rules were," said umbia. "I feel terribly sad for him."
"a Charest, who acknowledged he had heard Mike Sokowski, a teammate a the 1984
several months ago that Johnson might be Olympic Games in Los Angeles, said, "Ben's
r- using steroids. a pretty simple guy. Ben does not do drugs.
id "From time to time people would come to He did not knowingly do this."


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