Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Windup Springs Ex-Card Clark to Higher Level

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Windup Springs Ex-Card Clark to Higher Level

Article excerpt

The deal seemed so lopsided a year ago. Not since Indians gave up Manhattan for beads had a tribe been so fleeced.

In spring 1993, the Cardinals sent Bath, Ill., native Mark Clark to the Cleveland Indians for Mark Whiten. The idea was to add a fourth outfielder. The price was a young pitcher who did not figure to make the 1993 major-league roster. The results were unforeseen.

Whiten had a season unlike any he had previously. He hit 25 home runs - 16 more than his previous major-league high. He knocked in 99 runs - more than double his previous high. He put fear into the hearts of runners with his laser-like arm. In short, he was the second coming of Reggie Smith.

As for Clark, he was lost and forgotten in Ohio. The Indians were hoping Clark would buffer the tragic loss of three pitchers in a horrible boating accident. Two of the pitchers, Steve Olin and Tim Crews, were killed. Another, Bob Ojeda, was seriously injured.

But Clark wasn't much help. He struggled for the Indians, much like he had struggled for the Cardinals in 1992, when he was 3-10 with a 4.45 earned-run average in 20 starts.

In Cleveland, he floundered with a 4-4 record and puffy earned-run average in the first half. On July 18, he went on the disabled list with strained upper back muscles and did not pick up a ball for three weeks.

"It was tough because after the accident the attitude of the team was really not focused on baseball," said Clark, 26. "When I got traded I met with the pitching coach and manager and they filled me in with everything that was going on.

"Still, it was kind of difficult for me because I didn't know any of the guys. And nobody talked much. Last year, it seemed like they were stuck up and too good to talk to a new guy, but it wasn't really that. A lot of it had to do with the accident. From what I gather, Olin was a guy everybody was very close with."

And Whiten was a guy who compounded Clark's uneasiness.

"The night he had the four homers and 12 runs batted in, I'm sitting here on the DL," Clark said. "You talk about feeling useless . . ."

But that moment also signaled a turnaround for Clark. Two days later, on Sept. 9, he returned from the disabled list and in his final five starts, he was 3-1 with a 1. …

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