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January 18, 1994 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-01-18

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The Michigan Daily -- SPORTSTuesday -- Tuesday, January 18, 1994 - 3


The former Michigan baseball standout
offers his outlook on life in the Majors

While playing first base for the
Michigan baseball team, Hal Morris
garneredAll-Big Ten honors in 1985
and 1986 as well as academic confer-
ence recognition before beginning his
pro career in the New York Yankees
The Yankees traded Morris to the
Cincinnati Reds Dec. 12, 1989. Since
being traded to the Reds, Morris, 28,
has been a consistent performer, hit-
ting above .300 in three of his four
seasons. In his first season with the
Reds, Morris hit.340 and drove in the
WorldSeries-clinching run.
Beset by the injury bug the last two
seasons, Morris is looking towards a
prosperous 1994 campaign. Recently
Daily Sports Writer Tim Smith spoke
with Morris about life in baseball.
Daily: After a last year's disap-
pointing performance by the Reds,
how do you think the club will be able
to rebound for this season?
Morris: I think we should be com-
petitive in our division, foracoupleof
reasons. First of all, and I think prob-
ably most importantly, realignment.
No offense to the other teams in the
*(Central) division, but we've lost the
Braves and we've lost the Giants.
Now we'll be in there with the
Cubs, the Pirates, the Cardinals and the
Astros. I think there will be a lot of
parity in that division, so it should be a
competitive division.
D: Were you happy that you were
able to move to a seemingly easier
division without the Braves and Giants
to contend with?
M: Thepower really shifts quickly
in baseball from one division to the
next every two or three years it seems
like.I was happy with itonly becauseI
think you're going to see more excite-
ment in September with the addition of
another division and a wild card team.
. I think it's going to create a lot of
new rivalries. It will create new rival-
ries every year with people fighting for
that wild card spot. So, in that regard,
I was happy to see it.
D: So you don't really mind that it
was breaking the tradition of baseball
to send only division winners to the
M: I don't really. Maybe I'll dis-
agree a year from now but I think it
should be good for baseball.
. D: Do you think the Reds are good
enough to win the division?
M: Oh yeah, there's no doubt. We
have a very talented team. The Reds
have had a lot of talent the last eight or
nine years, starting with Barry Larkin.
If Kevin Mitchell's healthy we can
score some runs. If our pitching stays
healthy, we'll be all right. We defi-
nitely have a good enough team to win
the division.
D: Kevin Mitchell always seems to
be hurt in some way. Do you think he'll
be able to finally stay healthy and play
up to his tremendous potential?
M: He could be the MVP of the
league, which he's done in the past
(1987 with the San Francisco Giants).
Obviously, we're all hoping and pray-
ing that he'll be able toget out there 150
games. I guess you'll just have to ask
him that question and see how he's
He's just a tremendous hitter. He
could have not played for a couple of
weeks and rolled out there and hit a
couple of home runs. The guy is just
D: The Reds have made some
significant off season transactions,
among them was trading for Eric

Hanson from Seattle. How will he help
improve the club's jditching staff?
M: Well, if we can have all of our
guys healthy, I think that our staff is
going to be better. (John) Smiley had
some bone spurs in his elbow, (Tom)
Browning was hurt and Hanson has

been doing well from what I under-
I think we made some real good
decisions getting (Chuck) McElroy
from the Cubs and (Jeff) Brantley from
the Giants. I think our staff is shaping
up real nicely right now.
D: What impact will Chris Sabo's
departure for the Baltimore Orioles
have on the Reds?
M: I think we're going to miss his
presence, because he's such a gritty
player. He is such a work horse. He's
going to get out there on the field come
hell or high water. He's such a great
example for his teammates. Unfortu-
nately, we didn't resign him. I obvi-
ously wanted to see him signed, be-
cause we're definitely going tomiss his
D: With free agency bigger than
ever, and player loyalty being ques-
tioned when a player changes teams,
has the ability for players to move
adversely affected baseball?
M: I guess some players would
argue that free agency has been great
because their salaries have increased
but Idon'treally like the movement in
I grew up a Cubs fan and I knew on
opening day that my favorite players
would be there. You developed a real
loyalty to those players and to the teams.
That's not happening in this day and
age. We're mercenaries going from
one team to the next, and I don' t think
that's good for the game.
I really wish that Pittsburgh could
have held on to Barry Bonds, and Will
Clark would have stayed with the Gi-
ants. Because of the economics of the
game and the free agency structure,
this doesn'thappen. I don't think that's
necessarily the best situation.
D: With all the problems surround-
ing Major League Baseball, does the
game need someone to be in charge, or
is the commissioner's office a thing of
the past?
M: You definitely need someone
who is independent of the players and
the owners, although you're never go-
ing to have that. Basically, the com-
missioner is an employee of the own-
ers. You saw what happened to Fay
Vincent. Theoretically, it would benice
to have someone in that position.
D: After an injury-plagued 1993
season, do you think you'll be able to
have aproductive and healthy season?
M: I was fine the second of half
last year. I probably had my best half
of my career the second half of the
season. I've had freak injuries the last
couple of years - getting hit by a
pitch and getting hurt in a fight-just
crazy things. I'm conditioning right
now and I'm in good shape, so I'm
looking forward to having a good
D: What were your feelings when
Tony Perez was abruptly fired early
last season without really getting a fair
shot at proving himself?
M: I was real disappointed with
the way that came down. First of all,
Tony never got a chance to play with
his entire ball club. I was hurt, and we
had a lot of other guys injured.
Frankly, we just stunk the first two
or three weeks of the season. You can't
blame that on the manager. We had a
guy in the outfield who dropped two or
three balls and that really hurt us,
because it cost us some really big
So I was disappointed because I
think he's done a great job, and he's a

tremendous man. We were all real up-
set with the way we had played.
D: Regardless of your feelings for
Perez, what do you thinkDave Johnson
has brought to the team?
M: I like Davey a great deal as
well. I think that Davey respects you
as a professional and as a grown-up.

He expects you to go about your busi-
ness and go out there and play. He's
not going to carry a hammer over
your head.
Like I said, he respects you as a
professional. I think he's agood base-
ball man. He knows the game.
D: Do you think that players re-
spond better toamanager, likeJohnson
who is somewhatrelaxed when itcomes
to rules, or do you think a strict rule
setting manager is more effective?
M: Davey just expects you to go
out there and play. He's not going to
really harp on you about things that
are insignificant. He is more of a
player's manager.I think that the play-
ers appreciate that, and hopefully the
players won't abuse that.
D: Team owner Marge Schott cre-
ated a lot of controversy last year with
her racist remarks which led to a tem-
porary suspension. What was it like in
the Reds clubhouse with all the media
attention surrounding that event?
M: We dealt with that in spring
training, and I think that in the off
season last year the issue was really
addressed. I don't think it really had
any impact on us last year.
D: What is like being a teammate
of Rob Dibble?
M: Off the field, Rob is nice guy,
kind of quiet. It's just that he's an
adrenaline pitcher, so he has to get
himself all pumped up. I've had alotof
fun playing with him.
D: Michael Jordan has recently
said that he plans to try out for the
White Sox. What do you think of this
M: More power to him. I hope he
does and I hope he does well. I think it
will be a lot of fun, and it will be great
for baseball.
D: Don't you think that since he
hasn't played since high school he
will have a little tougher than he imag-
ines to make it to the Major Leagues?
M: Definitely, I would say that the
cards are stacked againsthim. Baseball
is a tough game to pick up when you
haven't played in so long. When I get
ready for spring training, I'm not ready
to hit until I've played in a month's
worth of games. It does take you a
long time to get into the swing of
It's going to be tough, but he's one
of the greatest athletes to play any
sport. It will be interesting to see what
happens. Like I said, though, it's going
to be tough for him but it should be fun
to see how he does.
D: Describe the experience of play-
ing in the 1990 World Series and de-
feating Oakland in that series.
M: It was really overwhelming for
me because it was really the first year
that I played at all in the majors. I had
been up with the Yankees a few years
back, but it was only for a little bit.
Just getting the chance to play in
the Major Leagues is thrilling, then to
do it when your team is in a pennant
race, and then to get in the playoffs
and get in the World Series. It just
happened so quickly that I appreciate
more now than I did at that point.
Like I said, it was overwhelming
and hard to describe the emotions you
feel when you are playing, and the

exhilaration you have when you're
playing in the World Series. It's some-
thing I'll never forget.
D: You mentioned the Yankees
When you were traded from New York
to Cincinnati, were you happy, in the
sense that you hada better chance to get
more playing time, or were you sad
because you had envisioned yourself
wearing the Yankee pinstripes?
M: There's nothing that parallels
putting on Yankee pinstripes. The big-
gest thrill of my life was putting on a
Yankee uniform the first day I was
called up to the Major Leagues.
I would have loved to stay there and
play but I was realistic and knew that
(Don) Mattingly was playing first base
for them, and it would be very unlikely
that I would stay in New York.
I realized that I was going to be
moved. Although, when you are traded,
it comes as a bit of a shock, because I
think you have loyalty to the team that
drafts you and gives you a chance ini-
tially, but everything has worked out
for me over here.
D: When you're traded, is it a
feeling of rejection because the team
doesn't want you, or is it a feeling that
they're just giving you abetter oppor-
M: Youhavetolookattheclubandsee
if you fit in with their personnel. If you're
afirstbaseman withthe WhiteSox, you're
not going to play first base. If you're a left
fielder with the Giants, you're not going to
play left field, and you realize that it's not
an insult to you that you're being traded,
you're just happy that another team has
that interest.
D: What are your future goals in
M: Well, I'd like to stay healthy
and get a chance to play everyday for
as long as I possibly can. I think I've
got that opportunity this year. I just
want to see what I can do. That's my
big goal - to get out there 155 to 160
D: Would you like to continue
playing for the Reds, or do you have
another team you really want to play
for in the future?
M: I'd like to stay here. I live here
now. I have a home here in Northern
Kentucky and I really enjoy the area.
I'm from Indiana, so it's not real far
from here, so l would like to sign a two
or three year contract after this year.
D: What do you see yourself do-
ing after baseball?
M: I don't know. I'm going to go
to graduate school I think. I've got to
finish my undergraduate. I'm 13 hours
away from getting my degree. I
wouldn't mind going to get an MBA
D: Do you keep up with the Michi-
gan baseball team?
M: Yeah, I try to check out the
scores in the paper and see how their
D: What do you think of the re-
building of theMichigan program after
the probation?
M: I imagine that it's going to take
a little time. After something like that
happens, it's going to take you a little
while to rebuild your recruiting base
and everything, but hopefully it will
start to happen here.

Close But No Sugiura
Women cagers finding
strength in numbers
When her legs start to feel like jelly and the court seems to be
engthening each time down the floor, Silver Shellman might peek
over to the sideline, in the hope that someone might be hopping
off the bench to her rescue.
But that rarely is the case, so Shellman - a freshman forward on the
Michigan women's basketball team - knows she only has one option,
even though it might not be the preferred one.
Keep playing.
"You never ask the coach to come out," she says.
Players afraid to ask for time on the bench - it's just one of the many
peculiarities of this team, all of seven players deep and according to the coach,
Trish Roberts, "probably the youngest team in Division I right now."
Yes, that's seven players, as in two subs and plenty of good seats still
available at the end of the Michigan bench.
"You feel like you're the only one there," says Shellman of her rare
trips to the pine. She logs an average of 34 minutes per game.
More tidbits?
1. So they can scrimmage 5-on-5 in practice, they employ the services
of some of the men's team's student managers.
2. Four of the starters are freshmen, something that would be an oddity
anywhere besides Crisler Arena, where a certain fivesome already holds
the patent on that novelty.
The fifth frosh, guard Mekisha Ross, also plays regularly, as if she has a choice.
3. There were originally 11 members, but two - Rhonda Jokisch and
Tannisha Stevens - are out with injuries, and the other two - Angie
Mustonen and Sonya Mays - recently left the team to concentrate on their
studies. Mustonen is in the Residential College Honors Program and Mays
is a mechanical engineering major.
4. Starting point guard and freshman Jennifer Kiefer is not big on the
jokes she hears about her team's lack of depth.
"Just because we have seven players doesn't mean we can't play
basketball and play hard and compete with the other teams," she explains.
5. As can be expected, the Wolverines are taking their lumps. After
losing a 64-63 heartbreaker Sunday to Wisconsin at Crisler, they fell to 3-
10 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten. And with only conference games
remaining and nine of the II Big Ten teams currently above .500, the term
"winning streak" can likely only be used in the loosest sense.
6. The other day, the entire team went for a ride in sophomore Jennifer
Brzezinski's car.
Despite the hardships, this resilient bunch is trying to look on the bright side.
For example, Roberts believes practicing with the managers is turning
out to be a valuable experience.
"I think it benefits our girls in the long run because they're playing
against tougher, quicker, stronger, faster guys every day," she explains.
Roberts, a silver-medal winner in the 1976 Olympics, and her assistants
also take to the practice court when necessary.
And while it was rough in the beginning, even the whole little-
experience, less-depth thing is becoming old hat now.
"I'm getting kind of used to it," Kiefer says. "You just know there's no one
that can come in for you, so you just have to stay out there and play hard."
Indeed, Kiefer, who has been on the floor for all but 27 minutes this
season, pushed the tempo whenever possible Sunday.
"They have great endurance," marveled Wisconsin coach Mary
Murphy. "They just keep running up and down the floor with you."
"It's a way of life for us," frosh center Catherine DiGiacinto says proudly.
And while the win-loss record by season's end might not be much, the
Wolverines are still plugging away, enjoying everything that comes their
way, even if they don't win, which is fairly often.
Because if there are not actual wins, at least there are still smaller wars
to be won. With their third victory, they met their season's goal of topping
last year's victory total. And as DiGiacinto half-seriously points out, until
Purdue lost Sunday at Penn State, the Wolverines had come the closest of
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