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August 12, 1978 Sporting News
The Sporting News
August 12, 1978
By Bob Fowler
TWIN CITIES:  When Mike Marshall was a free agent in mid-May, he said he wanted to join the Twins because he knew playing for Gene Mauch would be “fun.”
Well, after his first 30 appearances in which he compiled a 4-8 record with 13 saves and a 2.75 ERA, the Twins were still out of contention in the American League West.
In fact, at no time since he joined Minnesota on May 15 was the club ever at the .500 mark.
Was this enjoyable for the man who won the National League’s Cy Young Award in 1974 with Los Angeles?
“I’ve enjoyed every moment,” he answered.
It seemed appropriate to ask “Why?”
“First, there is the manager,” he replied.  “Second are the players; this is as fine a group of young men as you’ll find anywhere.  Third, I’m healthy for the first time in a couple of years.  “Then there is the manager.  Well, I guess I’ve come full-circle.”
Certainly Marshall has.
Last year, he appeared in only four games at Atlanta and 12 with Texas before being placed on the disabled list because of a back injury he had had since age 11.  In the re-entry draft, he was selected only by the White Sox, who seemed to pick every available body.
But an operation and a winter training program (he has a doctorate in exercise physiology) have obviously brought Marshall back and made him a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year honors.
“What he can do with a baseball is just amazing,” pitching coach Camilo Pascual said.  “They talk about his screwball.  But he really has three of them.  One breaks straight down, one breaks down and in and the third down and away.
“I don’t see how anyone ever gets a hit off him because he has one other important quality—he has a big heart, a very big heart.”
Pascual is not the only Marshall fan in the Twins’ clubhouse.
Mauch, for example, is more impressed with Marshall this season than when they were together in Montreal (1970-73).
“He is always searching for the unknown,” Mauch explained.  “He studies hitters because he wants to know what they’re likely to do in situations so that he can pitch accordingly.
“This takes time.  But he has been better earlier in the American League than he was in the National.  Therefore, he’ll probably be even better in the next few months because he’ll have more experience.”
Why the intense study?  What is the Marshall Plan?
“It’s exciting to constantly match yourself against the best pitchers in the world,” he explained.  “Each one is a new and separate challenge.  Each time you’re asking yourself, “Can I out-think him and then out-perform him?”
“First, you have to master the strike zone.  Then the hitter.  If you can’t do the first, you can forget the second.  For example, the screwball may be your best pitch, but you won’t succeed unless you can throw it for a strike with a 3-and-2 count.”
The question is:  Will he be utilizing these theories with the Twins until season’s end?
You see, American League President Lee MacPhail hasn’t approved his contract because it allows him to be a free agent again at the end of the season.
Marshall said he wanted that clause included so that he would be able to join Mauch, if the manager joins another club in 1979.
Mauch, however, took care of that when he signed a three-year extension to his contract as Twins manager July 28.
Calvin Griffith said the terms give Mauch more money than any other Twins manager ever earned.
Mauch signed only after Griffith reassured him that management would do everything possible to produce a pennant.  That could begin by keeping Marshall.