Angel Notebook : McCaskill Hits Memorably, Pitches Forgettably

Times Staff Writer

Angel pitcher Kirk McCaskill, offensive star for a day, doesn't know if all this hitting stuff is precisely what it's cracked up to be.

Sure, McCaskill had a triple and a run-scoring single in two at bats during the Angels' Saturday afternoon exhibition game against the San Diego Padres. What good did it do him?

His team lost, 7-4.

He didn't win any friends by showing up his colleagues on the Padres and his teammates on the Angels.

"I got a lot of people mad at me all at once--their pitchers and my hitters," McCaskill quipped.

And, by the time he was finished with all that running on the bases, McCaskill was all but finished on the mound, tiring quickly as he yielded three hits and two runs in his third and final inning of work.

Bring on the American League season. Bring back the designated hitter.

"It's a good thing I got a couple of hits," McCaskill said. "Hopefully, they'll make (Manager Gene Mauch) forget about my third inning."

Pitching 3 innings as the first reliever for starter Ron Romanick, McCaskill surrendered six hits and two runs. He avoided serious trouble until the sixth, when Rusty Tillman led off with a single, Mark Parent doubled him home and John Kruk singled in Parent.

"I was tired," McCaskill said. "Everything was up. I got away with a lot of pitches."

The trouble started with McCaskill's triple in the top of fourth inning. With the Padre outfield drawn in, McCaskill sliced a pitch by Greg Booker into the right-center field gap, and when the ball bounded all the way, McCaskill had no choice but to keep running.

Given a choice, McCaskill might have pulled up at first base and admired his batsmanship. As it was, McCaskill barely made it to third, chugging through the last 90 feet as if he were running on marbles.

"I was praying I didn't have to slide," McCaskill said. "I was so winded. I don't know if I've recovered yet."

McCaskill had to flash back to his college days at the University of Vermont in 1980 and 1981 to remember the last time he did any serious hitting. "I did some DHing in college," he said. "I hit .330 as a sophomore and .375 as a junior, but that was with aluminum bats."

With a wooden bat in his hands, McCaskill showed Saturday he hasn't completely forgotten that talent. But Mauch is a traditionalist. He likes his pitchers to pitch and his hitters to hit.

"He was ragged, high on a lot more pitches than he should have been," Mauch said.

"He hit better than he pitched."

Romanick's task this spring is trying to regain the form that made him 12-4 at the 1985 All-Star break before assorted problems--including a foot injury--plunged him to 1-5 in the second half.

His first step Saturday was less than encouraging.

Romanick didn't last his scheduled three innings of work, leaving with one out in the third after allowing seven hits and five earned runs.

He yielded a double to Graig Nettles and a two-run triple to Kevin Reynolds in addition to hitting Tim Flannery with a pitch.

"He was obviously not ready to go three innings," Mauch said. "I thought his stuff would hold up a little better than that."

Pitching coach Marcel Lachemann said Romanick didn't appear to be favoring his foot but was wild with his control.

"He's in a pretty good groove as far as his delivery goes," Lachemann said. "But his ball-to-strike ratio was not good and his first pitch ratio was not good. He faced 14 batters and only three times did he get his first pitch over for a strike.

"We've got a lot of work to do."

Angel Notes

The Angels have talked about carrying a 24-man roster this season, but Jim Slaton had a different idea after watching Kirk McCaskill take his cuts at the plate. "Now we need only 23," he joked. . . . Gary Lucas will fly to Los Angeles early next week to visit team physician Dr. Lewis Yocum for further examination of his ailing back. . . . Rick Burleson sat out Saturday's game after taking a line drive in the ankle during batting practice. Mauch said it isn't serious and plans to start Burleson at second base today. . . . Outfielder Reggie Montgomery began his morning by signing a 1986 contract with the Angels. Then he led the Angels to a 5-3 victory in the "B" game, doubling home Reggie Jackson to snap a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning. T.R. Bryden, who pitched two scoreless innings, was the winning pitcher. . . . Mike Witt, Jim Slaton and Ken Forsch are the scheduled pitchers for today's 1 p.m. game against the Padres.

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