Don Sutton, a winner of 293 games during a big-league career that began in 1966, was acquired by the Angels Tuesday from the Oakland A’s in exchange for two minor league players to be named later.
Sutton, 40, had a 13-8 record and a 3.89 earned run average in 29 starts for the A’s this year and had one complete game. However, in his last 19 starts, he was 10-3 with a 2.68 ERA.
“I’m going to be merging into an already good ballclub,” Sutton said at a hastily called Anaheim Stadium news conference shortly before the Angels faced the Kansas City Royals.
The Angels moved to within a half-game of the American League West-leading Royals with a 7-1 victory Monday night in the first game of a three-game series between the two clubs.
“I found out I had cleared waivers this morning,” said Sutton, who has a lifetime record of 293-226. “It will be nice to go home after a home game for the first time in five years.”
The veteran right-hander, who ranks sixth on baseball’s all-time strikeout list with 3,299, missed a scheduled start for the A’s Monday night, and team officials said he was flying to his home in Laguna Hills, near Anaheim, because his father-in-law was in the hospital.
Sutton said his father-in-law has a clogged artery that caused a heart problem.
“Don Sutton means an outstanding addition to this club,” Manager Gene Mauch of the Angels said. “He will find a way to make contributions down the way as he has many times in the past.
“He is not going to be taking anyone’s place (in the Angels’ starting rotation). All I can say is I plan on pitching him four times, maybe five (during the rest of the season).”
Sutton, who won’t be eligible for post-season action should the Angels qualify, said he expected to make his first start for California either Thursday or Friday against the Texas Rangers. Mauch said no firm decision on that matter had been made.
Said Sutton: “I’ll do whatever Gene Mauch wants me to do. I have reached the stage of my career where I know there’s a not a whole lot of time left. It’ll be nice to spend some time with a contending ballclub.”
Sutton pitched for the Dodgers for 15 years, a term during which he established club records in eight categories. He said last winter that he might retire rather than report to the A’s.
His best season was in 1976, when he went 21-10 for the Dodgers, with a 3.06 earned run average.
He’d signed with the Dodgers’ organization in 1964, and made his first major league appearance for them in 1966.
After becoming a free agent in 1980, Sutton was signed by the Houston Astros. Then, in 1982, he was traded to Milwaukee. The Brewers then swapped him to the A’s last December.
Sutton was 14-12 with a 3.77 ERA for the Brewers last season.
“If I had planned all the things that have happened to me in the last five years, I wouldn’t have planned things like they happened,” Sutton said. “But every experience has been a positive one for me.
“I was convinced my career was over (as late as last March 1). It was important for me to exhaust every possibility to stay at home.”
Sutton said his family and friends convinced him to keep playing and, he said, he enjoyed his time spent with the A’s.
“There wasn’t one guy I wouldn’t enjoy spending time with,” he said. “I have an affection for all the people there, especially the players.”
Sutton joins an Angel mound staff that has been less than consistent over the past couple of months, as the Angels saw their once-large lead in the AL West dwindle. The Royals took over first place this past weekend.
Sutton said upon entering the Angels’ dressing room shortly before the news conference that a couple of players said to him, “What took you so long.”