Angel Notebook : Cliburn and Lugo Work to Catch Up

Times Staff Writer

They had expected to be bullpen mates, but right now they are training room mates--Stewart Cliburn and Urbano Lugo, trying to whip a couple of right arms back into pitching shape.

The Angels say Cliburn's recuperative stint will be short term. By Friday, they expect Cliburn to resume throwing, if only lightly on the sideline.

But Lugo may be gone a long time. His rehabilitation program after elbow surgery in January could extend deep into the summer--to July or beyond.

"Our brightest hope is for some time in the May-to-June category," General Manager Mike Port said Monday. "Even if it's July, we'd be more than satisfied."

Lugo, who went 3-4 with a 3.69 earned-run average as a rookie with the Angels in 1985, injured his arm while pitching in a winter league back home in Venezuela. Late in the season, an irritation in his right elbow was diagnosed as a bone chip.

On Jan. 30, the bone chip was removed in an operation performed by Dr. Martinez Morales in Caracas.

Such surgery isn't often conducted in a different hemisphere, by someone other than the team doctor, but Port said the Angels gave permission by telephone.

"We had open and accurate communication," Port said. "We even had Lugo brought up from Venezuela and examined by (team physician) Dr. (Lewis) Yocum. Dr. Yocum knew exactly what was being talked about.

"We have no complaints about the surgery. It's just unfortunate that it had to be performed near the end of winter ball, instead of earlier."

Because of the late surgery, Lugo's rehabilitation program barely got a head start on spring training. Lugo is now undergoing the first phase of his comeback, strengthening the arm by lifting light weights, stretching, running and riding the exercise bicycle.

The 1986 season could be under way before Lugo resumes serious throwing. His first competitive pitching of the season figures to be done with the Angels' Triple-A club in Edmonton.

"That's what we do with many players coming off surgery," said Port's assistant, Preston Gomez. "We hope he can start pitching by June, go through his rehab in Edmonton and if we need some pitching help late in the year, maybe we can call on Urbano."

The Angels will play their first intrasquad game of the spring today, with John Candelaria, Gary Lucas and Donnie Moore among the scheduled pitchers. After three days of intrasquad play, the Angels will open their exhibition schedule Friday at Yuma against the Padres.

The pitching schedule for the Padre series:

--Friday: Candelaria, Lucas, Moore.

--Saturday: Ron Romanick, Kirk McCaskill, Carl Willis.

--Sunday: Mike Witt, Jim Slaton, Ken Forsch.

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