Spring Training / Angels : Miller Catches Mauch's Eye During Exhibition Game

Times Staff Writer

Geoff Zahn, Luis Sanchez and Curt Kauffman pitched the Angels to a five-hit, 6-0 victory over Cleveland Friday, but Manager Gene Mauch talked later about the catcher.

"I like the way Darrell Miller has been handling it," Mauch said.

Miller, the brother of USC's Cheryl and UCLA's Reggie, has also been handling the bat well. He's 4 for 7 in three starts, with 4 RBIs.

Miller, 26, was batting .326 at Edmonton when he was recalled by the Angels last Aug. 13. He got into 17 games, batting .171 in 41 at-bats.

Now, bidding to retain his utility role, Miller seems locked in a roster battle with outfielder Rufino Linares, who played with Atlanta in 1981-82, then broke an ankle and missed almost all of the '83 season.

Linares was released by the Braves in November and invited to the Angels' camp as a non-roster free agent on the recommendation of scout Cookie Rojas, who had seen Linares, allegedly 34, play in the Dominican Winter League.

Miller has catchers Bob Boone and Jerry Narron ahead of him, but he also plays first base and the outfield, offering a versatility lacking in Linares.

Said Mauch: "Miller's versatility presents a pleasant situation and could influence the thinking."

Buzzie Bavasi, former executive vice president of the Angels, and wife Evit watched Friday's game with son Peter, now president of the Indians.

The senior Bavasi said he and Evit had been on the road for 33 days, driving 7,000 miles during their first spring vacation in more than 40 years.

Asked to comment on the continued absence of first baseman Daryl Sconiers, Bavasi said Sconiers didn't deserve special treatment because he hasn't established the performance credentials that might qualify him for it.

Bavasi alluded to General Manager Mike Port and said: "I hope Mike does the right thing and puts him on the restricted list. You can't let him get away with this. You can't let them do this."

Sconiers has been absent for 15 days and fined $3,675.

Angel Notes Bob Boone (suffering from a slight groin strain), Reggie Jackson, Bobby Grich, Doug DeCinces and Brian Downing did not make the trip here. They will continue to work out at the Mesa training complex rather than accompanying the club to Yuma for a pair of weekend games with San Diego. Manager Gene Mauch said he wants to bring his veterans along slowly while taking a long early look at the young players. . . . The Yuma games will be broadcast by KMPC. . . . Gary Pettis had a triple and a single in Friday's game, driving in two runs and scoring two. . . . Geoff Zahn allowed only one hit in his three-inning stint as the starter. . . . Mike Brown has traded his glasses for soft contact lenses. "I've worn hard contacts before but never soft ones," he said. "I'm struggling with them right now, but I don't want to give up on them too soon."

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