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One-Time Angel Doesn’t Get Mad, Gets Even

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Ken Schrom, who was drafted by the Angels in 1976 and then traded to Toronto in 1980 after four less-than-awe-inspiring seasons in the minors, might not remind anyone of Dwight Gooden these days. But the Angels have seen enough of the 31-year-old right-hander to lobby for his place in Cooperstown if he promises to retire.

Three weeks ago in Cleveland, Shrom retired 22 of the last 23 Angels he faced en route to a 3-0 win that he described as “probably the best game I’ve ever pitched.”

He wasn’t that impressive Sunday, yielding eight hits and four earned runs in the Indians’ 6-4 victory, but he fared better than Angel Manager Gene Mauch figured he would.

“He impresses me only because he’s won two games from us,” Mauch said. “I expect our guys to see a pitcher like that a second time and to hammer him a little better than they did today.”

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So much for compliments.

“I think the Angels were sitting on some of the pitches I got them out with last time,” Schrom said. “So I tried to change things around and keep them off balance. I threw a lot more fastballs and sliders today. The left-handers, especially, seemed to be waiting on the breaking ball.”

Schrom certainly wasn’t overpowering Sunday, but he struck out six and walked just one. He’s 8-2 with a 3.88 ERA and is flirting with a spot on the All-Star team . . . quite an honor for a guy who “just keeps throwing the same old junk” and has been given up on more than once in his career.

Toronto released him in 1983, but he was picked up by the Twins and finished the season with a 15-8 mark and a 3.71 ERA. Schrom, typically unspectacular, was 14-23 over the next two seasons with the Twins. But he was consistent. Last season, he allowed four runs or less in 19 of his 26 starts and was often doomed by the Dome, giving up 20 homers in the Metrodome and just eight on the road.

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But when Ray Miller became manager of the Twins, Schrom lost his edge. A faithful follower of Kung Fu guru Gus Hoefling, whose conditioning routine was made famous by Steve Carlton, Schrom was both physically and mentally disturbed when Miller told him to abandon his martial arts regimen.

“We went to a four-man rotation and Miller wanted me to cut way back,” Schrom said. “It involves a lot of flexing exercises, situps and pushups and it’s pretty fatiguing. But it’s great for the shoulders and legs and it keeps me strong all year.”

The arrival of Bert Blyleven in Minnesota a few weeks later meant the end of Schrom’s tenure in the Twins’ starting rotation, anyway.

It also paved the way for a trade that sent Schrom to Cleveland. And thus he became one of the few people in history to utter the phrase: “I’m very, very happy to be going to Cleveland.”

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The pitching-poor Indians welcomed him with open arms.

“The record shows that he’ll give you six or seven strong innings,” Manager Pat Corrales said. “And that’s exactly what we need, especially the way we score runs. He’s had just two bad starts and if the bullpen hadn’t let a few get away, he’d have 12 or 13 wins now.

“He was happy to come here because he wanted the opportunity to pitch. I told him this spring, ‘You made the club. I won’t be around to see you pitch half the time so just get yourself in shape.’ He had trouble in the spring but he opened the season for us against Baltimore and won.”

Schrom says he harbors no animosity against the Twins or the Angels, but he admits he does take pleasure in beating them.

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“Anytime a club gives up on you, it’s human nature to want them to realize they made a mistake,” he said. “I played for (Angel batting coach) Moose (Stubing) for three years (in the minors) and I thought I’d never get away from him.

“And, sure, I want the front office people in Minnesota to read the papers and see what I’m doing.”


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