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Candelaria Will Miss One Start, Maybe More : Angel Pitcher’s Sore Left Elbow Worsens; Slaton Takes His Place in Rotation

Times Staff Writer

Further examination of John Candelaria’s pitching arm has revealed a worsening condition in his left elbow, which will cause the Angels’ only left-hander to miss his next start and possibly many more.

General Manager Mike Port said Friday that Candelaria, who has suffered from chronic elbow pain throughout his career, “might have put a crack in the calcification area during a recent outing and/or might have recently done some damage to a small tendon in the area.”

Whatever the injury, Candelaria already has been scratched from his next scheduled start--the home opener against the Seattle Mariners Monday at Anaheim Stadium. Jim Slaton, primarily a long reliever and spot starter, will take Candelaria’s place in the rotation as the Angels determine the extent of the elbow problem and the best methods to treat it.

Port and Manager Gene Mauch will meet Monday to discuss the Angel pitching situation. Among the topics: left-handed reliever Terry Forster, who recently was released by the Atlanta Braves and is reportedly interested in pitching for the Angels.

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Mauch remains noncommittal.

“You find me a Terry Forster,” he said. “Darn right we could use that. But I don’t know if what’s left of Terry Forster is enough. David Letterman would say there’s a lot left.

“I read in the paper (USA Today) that he worked out with us twice,” he said. “I want to know who caught--Lester (the clubhouse boy)?”

Friday morning, Candelaria arrived at the Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, where team physician Dr. Lewis Yocum began an examination that lasted until late in the afternoon. Tests showed that Candelaria’s elbow condition had worsened since spring training.

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“It’s not the best (news),” Port said, “but it’s not disastrous. Right now, in reality, this is preliminary. We don’t see it as a season-ending thing or a career-threatening thing.

“Exactly what we’re going to do now will be determined by what Yocum sees in the next couple of days,” said Port, who added that Yocum’s review may not begin until Monday.

“Indeed, John does have a problem,” he said. “But whatever the time we are without him, it is our job to stay as close as we can and rectify the situation.”

The Angels can do one of two things with Candelaria: If the injury is serious enough, they can place him on the disabled list, thus freeing a spot on the roster for a replacement. Or they can keep him active and hope the condition improves.

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"(Thursday) he threw six or eight balls in the outfield and felt nothing,” Mauch said. “Of course, if he would have thrown 60 or 80, it might have been different.

“It’s not a bone chip. Some pitchers can move that around in their elbow and still pitch with it. We know it’s a stationary bone spur and we have to find out what it is irritating. The pain comes and goes, that’s what makes him so mad. It feels good, like it did in the Freeway Series, and John gets all excited, and suddenly there it is again.”

Candelaria finished spring training with a 2-0 record, a 1.29 earned-run average and 11 strikeouts in 14 innings.

But against the Mariners at the Kingdome Wednesday night, Candelaria pitched just two innings, giving up four runs and six hits. He appeared to be throwing sidearm in an effort to relieve the pain in his elbow.

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In his starting spot is Slaton, who was placed in a similar situation last year when Geoff Zahn started the season on the disabled list and Craig Swan faltered as a projected fifth starter. Slaton promptly went 3-0 in April but won only three more games the rest of the season.

It was Slaton who relieved Candelaria Wednesday night. He earned the Angels’ first win of the year as he pitched seven innings, allowing no earned runs and five hits.

Now, for a change, Slaton can follow a set schedule--that is, until Candelaria’s situation is clarified.

“You just go as long as you can, as strong as you can,” Slaton said. “I’ve never been one to pace myself.”

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Slaton said he’s just happy to be here doing anything--long relief, short relief, starter. After the way he finished the 1985 season, Slaton said he prepared for the worst when he reported to training camp.

“I didn’t know what they had planned for me,” he said. “But I’ve never really worried about it. Whatever happens, happens. I know it’s getting near the end of my career, but I still feel good.”

With left-handed reliever Gary Lucas on the 21-day disabled list and Candelaria possibly headed in the same direction, this comes as good news.


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