At the request of Angel Manager Cookie Rojas, a punching bag now hangs in the runway leading to the home dugout at Anaheim Stadium. No, it’s not the new team mascot. Rojas had the heavy bag installed for its therapeutic value--something to pound during all those moments of Angel despair.
“I bought that,” Rojas proudly told reporters before Friday night’s series opener against Kansas City. “Now they can hit this and take their frustrations out. They don’t have to tear up the walls anymore.”
That’s one way of adding some punch to the Angel attack.
Another is restoring center fielder Devon White to the active roster and starting lineup, which the Angels also managed to achieve Friday. Considering that the knee surgery White underwent May 7 was supposed to sideline him from six to eight weeks, this was somewhat bigger news, coming barely one month after the operation.
White didn’t exactly come back and take the American League by storm--he went 0 for 3--but at least the punching bag wasn’t required. Angel starter Dan Petry took care of that, shutting out the Royals, 1-0, on three hits before a crowd of 38,642.
For Petry (3-5), it was the third 1-0 game he has been involved in this season. It was also the first one he won, coming a month after his 1-0 loss to former Detroit Tigers teammate Jack Morris and one start after last weekend’s 1-0 defeat by the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ted Higuera.
This time, Petry got the only run he needed in the bottom of the eighth inning when Brian Downing singled home Dick Schofield, making a loser of Kansas City starter Charlie Leibrandt (2-9), himself a victim of non-support. In those 9 losses, Kansas City has managed 15 runs.
Petry extended that string by recording his first shutout since Sept. 22, 1984, when he blanked the New York Yankees, 6-0. Friday night, the Angel right-hander allowed singles to Willie Wilson, Danny Tartabull and Jamie Quirk, walked two and struck out seven--including the side in the top of the ninth.
The victory was the Angels’ third straight--as well as White’s first start since early May.
It also snapped the Royals’ seven-game winning streak.
Less than five weeks ago, White underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove torn cartilage from his right knee. Then, the initial prognosis for White’s return to the Angels was possibly the end of June and, most likely, around the All-Star break.
So, what was White doing in the No. 7 spot in Rojas’ batting order on the evening of June 10?
“Devo’s a fast healer,” Rojas said. “He told me he’s ready to play, and I said, ‘Fine. Glad to have you back, Devon White.’ ”
The Angels are also desperate, going 11-18 and falling out of the American League West race since White went on the disabled list. Might they be rushing things a bit with White’s rapid return?
“No,” said Rojas, cutting off a questioner. “I know what you’re trying to get at. Devo underwent some medical testing the other day and came back and said he’s ready. That’s why we’re playing him.”
That testing, done Thursday, included a workout on a Cybex machine, which measured the strength and resiliency of White’s knee. “They say that a 95 reading on the machine means you’re just about ready,” Angel General Manager Mike Port said. “Before our last road trip, Devon tried it and was at 91. Yesterday, he did it again, and it was 103 or 104.
“He was more than ready.”
So, White was reactivated ahead of schedule, which probably qualifies as the best news the club has received since Baltimore’s visit to Anaheim last month. He didn’t have much to do with Friday night’s game, but at least he was back in center field, which certainly rates an improvement over the rag-tag tag team of Chico Walker and Tony Armas.
On this night, for once, little was required from the Angel offense. Petry and Leibrandt waged a scoreless standoff until the bottom of the eighth, when Bob Boone stroked a leadoff single to set in motion the game’s only successful scoring opportunity.
And, typically, the Angels nearly blew that.
After Junior Noboa ran for Boone, Jack Howell was asked to lay down a bunt. Too much to ask. Howell popped an 0-and-1 pitch to Kevin Seitzer at third base for the inning’s first out.
Schofield, however, bailed Howell out by singling Noboa to third, but Noboa ran himself into an out at the plate when the next batter, Johnny Ray, hit a sharp grounder back at Leibrandt. Leibrandt gloved the ball, charged home and made the tag on Noboa himself.
That brought up Downing, a Leibrandt nemesis, who drove in Schofield with a single to left. It was Downing’s 16th career hit in 27 at-bats against Leibrandt (.593)--and gave Petry just enough offense finally to win one of those 1-0 games.
Petry will tell you it sure beats the other kind. With the other kind, that punching bag alongside the Angel dugout would take a beating.
To make room for Devon White on the 24-man roster, the Angels returned infielder Joe Redfield to their triple-A affiliate in Edmonton, Canada. Redfield spent exactly one week as an Angel, appearing in one game and going hitless in two at-bats. Before that, Redfield hit .281 for Edmonton, making him the second-leading hitter among Trapper regulars. Starting left fielder Brian Brady leads Edmonton with a .293 average. . . . Making the move from Edmonton to Anaheim was Gus Polidor, a visitor in the Angel clubhouse Friday night. Polidor was sent to the Trappers June 2 and officially remains on the minor league team’s roster, although he hasn’t appeared in a game because of a rib injury. Polidor said the Angels flew him in Friday to have his ribs examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum. “I was in Edmonton for a week, getting treatment and running and exercising,” Polidor said. “I wanted to swing the bat, too, but the weather was so bad--it rained for three straight days--I couldn’t do nothing. I’ve been feeling better, and (the Angels) wanted Dr. Yocum to see me. In the next three or four days, they’ll have to make a decision--play me a few games in Edmonton or let me take a few hacks (in batting practice) and stay with the team here.” . . . Cookie Rojas, a member of the Kansas City Royals’ hall of fame, was greeted warmly by John Wathan, George Brett and other former teammates before Friday’s game, Rojas’ first meeting with the Royals since becoming manager of the Angels. “I still know a lot of guys over there,” Rojas said. “I played with them a long time (1970-1977), and I lived in Kansas City until 1986. After I retired, I’d still go to games and talk to all of them.” . . . The Royals have altered their starting rotation for the final two games of this series. Ted Power (3-1) and Floyd Bannister (6-5) will switch places, meaning Power will start Sunday’s game, followed by Bannister Monday night.