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`HIT THE ROAD, JACK,' INDIANS TELL MORRIS

Jack Morris' release from the Cleveland Indians was not a result of his spending off days at his ranch in Montana, team officials said.

Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove said the ex-BYU pitcher would show up the day before he was scheduled to pitch and then return to Great Falls, Mont., immediately after the game. Morris, 39, told the Indians some of his help had quit and he had to help with the wheat harvest."The reason for his release is the way he pitched in his last five starts, not because he was going back and forth," Hargrove said Tuesday night. "The way Jack was pitching it was hard for us to stay competitive in the pennant race. And we just didn't see it getting any better."

Morris, a 10-game winner despite a high ERA, was released unconditionally on Tuesday. He was told of the release by phone.

"He was a little mad, a little disappointed when I talked to him," Hargrove said. "He appreciated the support and opportunity to pitch. He asked if we'd send his stuff to him."

The Indians also cited Morris' undisclosed personal problems for the move. A teammate said Morris was crying on the bench after pitching one inning against Chicago on July 22 in Jacobs Field.

"We are in a pennant race and must do what is best for the Cleveland Indians," general manager John Hart said. "We wish Jack all the best.

"From a baseball perspective, the staff didn't want the guy," Hart added. "Jack has a chance to catch on with another club if the season resumes after the strike."

Morris was 10-6 in 23 starts for the Indians, but had a 5.60 ERA and led the majors with 13 wild pitches. In 1411/3 innings, he allowed 163 hits and 67 walks.

In Morris's 10 wins this season, the Indians averaged 7.6 runs. He was 2-1 with an 8.67 ERA over his last five outings.

Morris, a five-time All-Star, has a career record of 254-186. He has been on four World Series winners, compiling a 4-2 record with a 2.96 ERA in seven starts.

Morris had spent the previous three seasons on championship teams, playing for Minnesota in 1991 and Toronto the next two years. Morris joined the Indians on Feb. 10, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $350,000.

Morris had already earned an additional $500,000 for pitching 90 innings and would have gotten another $250,000 upon reaching 150 innings. The bonuses and salary would have totaled $2.6 million if he had reached 240 innings this season.