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Angel Notebook : If Harvey Stays Fit, It Will Be a Big Relief

Times Staff Writer

Yes, this Angel training camp run by Doug Rader definitely has a new look to it. At least that much can be construed as truth in advertising.

With Monday afternoon’s workout winding to a close, Rader was on a practice field, watching Angel catchers conduct throwing drills, when someone gave him the Bryan Harvey update. Harvey, five months removed from arthroscopic surgery, pitched batting practice on another field and reported that he threw “pretty doggone close to 100%.”

In years past, Gene Mauch might have described such news as “a wonderful development” and maybe drawn a pithy comparison to Jim Bunning. Cookie Rojas would have called it “a hell of an update.”

And Rader?

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The new Angel manager smiled broadly and motioned to a reporter. “Remember Dumbo’s feather?” he asked. “As long as he had that feather, he thought he could fly.”

Well, that’s one way of looking at it.

What Rader is saying, a tad fancifully, is that Harvey believes. And, if Harvey believes he’s close to 100%, then the power of positive thinking can be an excellent thing--especially when factoring in the wafer-thin depth of the Angel bullpen.

“As long as Harv says that, that’s fine with me,” Rader said.

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Harvey, who saved 17 games in 1988 and finished second to Walt Weiss of the Oakland Athletics in the voting for American League rookie of the year, may have the most valuable arm in the Angels’ camp. With him, the Angels can feel secure with leads they take into the late innings.

Without him, there may be no relief in sight.

Maybe that’s why Rader is moved to referring to a Walt Disney movie when he hears Harvey saying:

--"My arm feels great. It feels better than it ever has.”

--"I feel I can get in 60-plus appearances, easy, this season.”

--"I’d like to get 30 saves or more this season. That’s my goal.”

Then, providing his own footnote, Harvey adds: “If I get that many saves, that means we’re winning. That means we’re havin’ a good year.”

Last year was not a good year for the Angels, which meant it was not a good year to be the Angels’ bullpen stopper. It’s difficult to save games when your team isn’t winning many, and the Angels provided Harvey with precious few opportunities during 1988.

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“And whenever we did win, usually the score was 10-0 or 11-2,” Harvey said with a laugh. “That’s just the way it is sometimes. What can you do about it? When it’s your turn, you just do your job.”

That Harvey saved 17 games was remarkable, enough of a feat to thrust him into contention for the league’s rookie award. The Angels’ publicity staff even put together a campaign in late August, mailing out flyers about their man to writers across the country.

Harvey’s face slightly reddens at the recollection.

“I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Harvey said in his slow, North Carolina drawl. “I guess the thing is, they were doing it for a good cause.”

Harvey might have approached the club record for saves as a rookie--Ken Tatum had 22 in 1969--had his season not been clipped at both ends. Harvey joined the Angels two weeks into the season after his recall from Edmonton and missed the last two weeks because of arm surgery.

“Maybe if I kept playing at the end, I might’ve had two or three more,” he said. “We had 12 games to go.

“Then again, we didn’t fare too well those last 12 games. The way we fared, it might’ve been zero.”

After the operation, in which two bone fragments were removed from his right elbow, Harvey rested the arm until after Thanksgiving. Then he threw for two weeks and rested the arm again.

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In January, Harvey flew out to Anaheim to participate in the club’s voluntary thrice-weekly workouts at Anaheim Stadium, leaving his family back home in Catawba, N.C.

Since then, Harvey has gradually increased his arm strength, to the point where Angel pitching coach Marcel Lachemann told him to ease off Monday.

“Lach told me I was pushing myself too hard too early,” Harvey said. “I don’t like doing anything (half-speed), but he said, ‘Nice and easy. If you were supposed to be ready now, spring training would be only two or three weeks long.’ ”

Said Rader: “Now, it’s just a matter of him throwing enough pitches . . . It’s just like falling off a horse, I guess.”

Angel Notes

Wally Joyner missed Monday’s workout in order to return home to be with his 4-year-old daughter, McKenzie, who underwent adenoid surgery. Joyner is expected to return in time for today’s intrasquad game. . . . Rookie Jim Abbott had been scheduled to pitch in the intrasquad game, but pulled a hamstring during running drills Monday. “I don’t think it’s anything serious,” Manager Doug Rader said. “It may keep him out of action here, but it won’t affect his work in Yuma.”

The Angels’ pitching alignment for the three games in Yuma: Friday--Mike Witt, Jack Lazorko, Sherman Corbett and Urbano Lugo; Saturday--Chuck Finley, Greg Minton, Bob McClure and Bryan Harvey; Sunday--Bert Blyleven, Willie Fraser, Stewart Cliburn and Carl Willis.


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