Gulls Lose to Stockton as Candelaria Loses Chance

From a Times Staff Writer

It could have been downright unfair.

California Angels left-hander John Candelaria, winner of 131 major league games, was scheduled to pitch for the Palm Springs Angels of the Class-A California League tonight at Visalia.

Candelaria, who has not pitched since April after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow, was penciled in for a rehabilitative workout against the Gulls--as if Palm Springs needed him.

The Angels boast the second-best winning percentage in all of minor-league baseball and hold a three-game edge over the Ventura County Gulls with two to play in the first half. The Gulls have the third-best winning percentage in the minor leagues.


The first-half champion is assured a playoff against the second-half champion for the division title.

The assignment has been postponed, however. Candelaria’s stepfather died Thursday, and the pitcher is in New York making funeral arrangements.

Palm Springs Manager Tom Kotchman, who learned of the change in Candelaria’s plans Friday morning, said that Scott Marrett will pitch instead.

Marrett (3-2), formerly of Calabasas High and Pepperdine University, will make his first start in more than a month after suffering a neck injury.


“We were counting on Candy,” Kotchman said. “The kids were excited about playing behind him, but that’s the way it goes.”

Kotchman relished the idea of handing the ball to a seasoned pitcher in a big game. But he said it might have created an awkward situation.

“He would have felt more pressure than on a normal rehab assignment because the game is so meaningful to us,” Kotchman said. “And if he got wild or something, I’d still have had to let him finish up his 60 or 70 pitches.”

Palm Springs leads the league with a team earned-run average of 3.36 but is only sixth in batting. “We’ve gotten great pitching and great clutch hitting,” Kotchman said. Despite a batting average of .265, the Angels top the league in runs scored.


Gulls Notes

Columbia was 48-22 during the first half of the South Atlantic League season. Palm Springs (47-21) could better that mark. . . . The New York Mets (44-18), of course, have the best record in professional baseball. . . . The Gulls’ roster is down to 22 players after catcher Francisco Cabrera, 19, was sent to St. Catherines of the rookie New York-Penn League and right-handed relief pitcher Zac Paris, 24, was given his unconditional release. Carlos Diaz, who caught for Oklahoma State the past four years, was sent to Ventura County to replace Cabrera after being drafted by Toronto this month. There has been no roster replacement for Paris.