Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Monday, April 5, 1999
Rangers enter season dogged by injuries
By JAIME ARON
AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers' biggest roster
decisions going into spring training weren't the kind to
lose sleep over -- all they needed were a backup catcher and
a utility infielder. But with the season beginning today,
there are a few reasons for concern.
Slugging first baseman Rafael Palmeiro and closer John
Wetteland hardly played in Florida because they spent most
of their time rehabilitating serious injuries. Then, just
when the news was improving on those two, fragile second
baseman Mark McLemore felt a twinge in his oft-injured legs.
All three were expected to be available for this afternoon's
season opener against Detroit. But starting a 162-game
season with nagging injuries sure makes the road to the
playoffs a lot tougher.
Palmeiro had his right knee operated on twice in 26 days for
two different problems. Both have been corrected, but he's
still rebuilding his strength and trying to making up for
lost time at the plate. He had some big hits in the last few
exhibition games and likely will start the year at
designated hitter, keeping his $45 million bat in the lineup
and preserving his status as the most durable player this
decade after Cal Ripken Jr.
Wetteland's surgically repaired right arm was doing fine
when he severely strained his right ankle. He took off more
time than he wanted to, but it seems to have worked as he's
been dominant in his last few appearances.
McLemore had been saying he feels his best since 1996, the
last season he didn't go on the disabled list. But that was
until slightly straining his left hamstring Friday.
The Rangers' tough schedule to start the season makes it
imperative that everyone is ready to go.
After opening with three games against the Tigers, Texas
hosts its top division rival Anaheim for four games. A week
later, the Rangers start a 15-game stretch that includes 11
games against the New York Yankees, Cleveland and Boston --
the other three AL playoff teams last year.
Rick Helling, who went from a career-high of five wins to 20
last season, will show right away whether 1998 was a fluke.
His first six starts are likely to include Detroit, Anaheim,
Cleveland and either Oakland or Seattle -- plus the Yankees
Helling won his first six starts last year and closed the
season by going 5-0 in his last seven starts. His 4.41 ERA
was the fifth-highest ever for a 20-game winner, but it
showed he knew how to take advantage of the whopping 6.61
runs per game Texas scored for him.
``I don't think that I've done the best that I can -- that's
what motivates me,'' Helling said. ``In no way did last year
make me lazy. I've worked just as hard as if I'd been
Duval rings up BellSouth victory
By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer
DULUTH, Ga. -- One of these days, David Duval is going to
get tired of giving victory speeches on the 18th green,
holding trophies over his head and trying to find words to
explain a streak not seen since Johnny Miller was in his
Just as long as it isn't next week at Augusta National.
If he wasn't already a big favorite going into the Masters,
Duval only shortened his odds for next week in the BellSouth
Classic by winning for the fourth time this year.
Playing the final four holes in 2 under while the rest of
the contenders crumbled around him, Duval closed with a
bogey-free 67 to finish at 18-under 270 for a two-stroke
victory over Stewart Cink.
How hot is Duval? On just the fourth day of April, the
$450,000 he earned Sunday was enough to break the PGA Tour
single-season money record he set last year in 23 events.
Duval has earned $2,598,300 in just eight starts.
And there's no reason to think his best golf is not ahead of
``I think it's helpful to win the week before you go
somewhere,'' Duval said. ``It makes you realize that what
you're doing, you're doing right. And I know I can do it.''
No doubt about that.
Duval won back-to-back starts for the second time this year
-- no one else has won more than once -- and already has
proven he can win three in a row. He closed the 1997 season
by winning the Michelob Championship, Disney Classic and the
Cink, whose chances to win in his hometown ended with bogeys
on two of the last three holes, ran out of patience when
asked for the third time about how well Duval is playing.
``Well, let's see,'' he said. ``Four times this year before
the Masters is my answer. I don't think we need to talk
about that anymore.''
The last player to win four times before the Masters was
Miller in 1974.
``I would never envision winning four golf tournaments
before the Masters starts,'' Duval said. ``I don't think any
player would out here anymore.''
A week after winning The Players Championship in his back
yard, Sunday's victory in the BellSouth was also special
because the Atlanta area is like a second home to Duval, who
was a four-time All-American at Georgia Tech.
This was also the tournament where Duval made his PGA Tour
debut as a 20-year-old junior at Tech. The 1992 BellSouth
was the year Duval showed off his tremendous talent by
taking a two-stroke lead into the final round.
``I had a chance to win after three or four holes. I didn't
have much of a chance after that,'' Duval recalled about his
He also was a third-round leader in the BellSouth in 1996
and 1997, two of the five times he took a lead into the
final round without winning.
That's ancient history now. Duval simply flips down the
wraparound shades and wins, whether that means lapping the
field (Mercedes), shooting a 59 on Sunday (Hope Classic) or
grinding it out with a 73 in U.S. Open-type conditions
He came from one stroke back Sunday on the TPC at Sugarloaf
with two great birdies, two important pars and a little luck
along the way.
``I'm just older, more mature, learning how to play the game
better,'' Duval shrugged.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 1999 by Pecos Enterprise