Spring Training / Angels : Mauch Gives Right-Field Job to Reggie, Not Brown

Times Staff Writer

A job expected to belong to Mike Brown, who never seemed to receive a chance to lose it, has been awarded to Reggie Jackson.

Angel Manager Gene Mauch, clarifying his right-field situation Wednesday, implied that Jackson could play in the neighborhood of 130 games, which is basically full time. Jackson turns 39 on May 18.

"If there's a connection between the way the man is hitting and the fact he's playing right field," Mauch said, "then damn right he's the right fielder.

"He hasn't really been tested this spring (with tough chances), but I have no reason to be concerned about it."

Jackson has appeared in 11 games, 10 as a right fielder. Now hitting .368 (14 for 38), he had an RBI triple Wednesday as the Angels defeated Oakland, 6-0.

"There's a limit to how many games Reggie can go full bore," Mauch said, "and a limit to how many games Rodney (Carew) can go full bore.

"If we face 50 to 55 left-handers, then there might be 30 to 35 times I'll rest them.

"It isn't necessarily that they'll need rest, it may be that I'll feel a right-handed hitter will have a better chance against that particular pitcher."

In those instances, Mauch said, his all right-handed hitting lineup would have Brown in right, Juan Beniquez at first and either versatile Darrell Miller or nonroster outfielder Rufino Linares as the designated hitter, depending on which of them makes the team.

Otherwise, with Jackson in right and Carew at first, Mauch said he would form a DH platoon, employing probably Brown and the left-handed hitting Ruppert Jones.

All of this started early in the spring when Mauch told a pleased Jackson that he wanted him prepared to play some in the field, the theory being that a more-involved Jackson would be more productive.

It was speculated, however, that Jackson would play only a limited number of games while Brown got first crack at the full-time role--as the club had said he would when Fred Lynn departed.

Brown, however, has been more like a Jackson caddy despite having a solid spring himself.

He had an RBI single Wednesday and is hitting .306 (11 for 36) while still encumbered some by a pulled left leg muscle suffered early in spring and a bruised right wrist incurred when he was hit by a batting-practice pitch before the exhibition games started.

Mauch responded to Brown's inability to take batting practice the next day by saying: "If I was Mike Brown, I'd go up and swing one-handed if I had to. The inference would be that if I'm out there, no one else is."

Brown, disturbed by the statement, talked to Mauch about it and was told it was strictly a motivational ploy. Nevertheless, it is almost as if Brown has since been cast in the role of a bit player, which is a surprise considering:

--The 25-year-old outfielder hit .354 and .343 in his last two Edmonton stints, and batted .284 in 148 at-bats with the Angels last year.

--His experience and credentials are superior to the new crop of farm products, who continue to elicit superlatives from Angel management.

--He has yet to receive his first shot, whereas center fielder Gary Pettis and shortstop Dick Schofield, whose minor league statistics were not as good as his, are now receiving their second.

Mauch, who remembers the 39 home runs Jackson hit as his right fielder when the Angels won the 1982 Western Division title, seemed to take another motivational jab Wednesday, saying there was still time for Brown to "assert himself." In which case, Mauch said, he would find a way to employ both Brown and Jackson.

Said Brown, choosing his words carefully when asked his reaction to being a platoon DH and part-time outfielder: "I feel my effectiveness suffers by a lack of playing time but I welcome every opportunity to be in the lineup. The thing is, I've always felt that I'm just as effective against right-handers as left-handers."

Angel Notes

Geoff Zahn pitched five scoreless innings and has allowed only one run in 17 innings. . . . Donnie Moore, who carred a 14.40 ERA, straightened out some mechanical problems and pitched three shutout innings. . . . On his batting order, Manager Gene Mauch said: "If Gary Pettis does what he wants and we want, he's going to be the leadoff man."

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