The Angels worked out under blue skies and an intense desert sun Saturday morning, but by afternoon, the sky was dark, a steady rain was falling and they had lost their 12th game in 16 exhibition outings.
But even the Cleveland Indians' 6-4 win on the first day of spring didn't keep Manager Gene Mauch from managing a sunny smile.
Mauch never accepts losing too graciously, even in the spring. But some of the clouds that have hung ominously over his teams' bullpen recently were dispersed Saturday as relievers Donnie Moore and Stewart Cliburn turned in pain-free outings and Gary Lucas got a somewhat favorable diagnosis from Dr. Lewis Yocum.
Moore pitched to four Indians, eliciting three ground outs and a pop-up. And, more importantly, he said the tenderness in his right side had dissipated.
"There was no discomfort," he said. "No problem. I felt good. It was just a slight strain anyway, but I didn't want it to get out of hand like last year."
For Moore, even a little tenderness can be trying.
"I had the same thing last year and if I'd have taken care of it, I wouldn't have had any problems. I never had arm problems before but this," he said, pointing to his ribs under his arm, "led to this," he said, pointing to his shoulder.
"This is my livelihood, so from now on I'll take any pain in my side very seriously. Obviously, a few days rest means a big difference to me."
Cliburn, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder Nov. 18, said he felt better Saturday than he had in his previous two outings.
"I felt real good," he said, "and I thought I pitched pretty well, except for that fastball I got up in (Rick) Dempsey's wheelhouse."
Dempsey, the first batter Cliburn faced, hit a solo homer to left-center. Cliburn pitched to eight more batters and allowed one more hit.
"So far, I've had no stiffness or soreness the day after I've pitched and that's a really good sign," he said. "I just want to get my work in and get as sound as I can. It was pretty cold and wet out there, but I didn't have any trouble getting loose and the weather didn't bother me."
Yocum examined Lucas during the game Saturday and said later the left-hander's sore shoulder seems to be slightly improved.
"We changed the (anti-inflammatory) medication, but we're keeping the same exercise program," Yocum said. "Gary threw off a mound today and felt more comfortable than he has in a while."
Yocum said that Lucas cannot localize the exact area of pain and there was no specific point in his delivery motion that causes him discomfort.
"Twenty percent of the guys out here complain of some kind of spring training shoulder stiffness," Yocum said, "but it's unusual for Gary and it bothers him more because he's a pitcher."
Yocum said the Angels hope to get Lucas into a game situation within a week.
Jack Howell's two-run double in the sixth inning Saturday was his fifth hit in his last nine at-bats. Seven of his 15 hits this spring have been for extra bases. Darrell Miller, who started in right field, continued his assault on spring pitching. He went 2 for 2 and leads the team with a .500 batting average. "I'd prefer to win a few," Manager Gene Mauch said, "but if we close out the last five or six days playing real clean, I'll feel good." Kirk McCaskill, making only his second appearance of the spring because of his seven-day holdout, went 4 innings, yielding seven hits and three earned runs. McCaskill allowed a hit per inning in the first four but gave up three hits a walk and three runs in the fifth. "This outing was like the weather today," McCaskill said. "It started out great and then it rained." McCaskill admitted he was a little tired by the fifth, but said he was generally pleased with his performance.
Mauch tried a half dozen different players in the leadoff spot last season, but was never really satisfied with the results. "I'm going to try to find a leadoff man this spring," he said. "Somebody who can get on base more than 33% of the time." Mauch didn't discount the possibility that center fielder Gary Pettis could end up in the No. 1 spot, but he did say, "Gary hit for his best average in the eighth and ninth spots. And he knocked in a lot of runs from there, too." Outfielder Devon White, who has hit safely in 12 of 16 starts and leads the team with 13 RBIs, will probably be Pettis' main competition for the top spot in the order. . . . Picking up on a tradition started by former Angel Bobby Grich, Wally Joyner led the right-field bleacher fans in an A-N-G-E-L spell-out cheer in the sixth inning. Joyner, running in the outfield between innings, tried to contort his body into each letter. Let's just say it's a good thing the fans already knew how to spell the team's name. . . . Pitcher John Candelaria took a few good-natured shots at outfielder George Hendrick during a recent radio interview, but Hendrick wasn't amused. After listening to a tape of the broadcast, Hendrick asked reporters: "Did you here that (bleep)? I might need to answer that. That might be enough to break radio silence." Don't hold your breath. George has been holding his tongue for more than a decade.