That oasis of tranquility known as Camp Rader--no holdouts, walkouts, controversies or season-shattering injuries so far--turned intense Tuesday afternoon.
For new Manager Doug Rader’s Angels, the day began with a 3 1/2-hour workout, featuring baserunning instruction by track coach Kevin McNair and crash courses on bunt defense and pickoff plays.
Then came a three-hour, nine-inning intra-squad game in 90-degree heat.
Then came more voluntary instruction with McNair, which translated into a seven-hour practice session for some players.
“That may be the longest workout in Angel history,” observed a sun-scorched Tim Mead, Angel publicist and keeper of such records.
Nobody in camp was willing, or able, to contest that claim.
“Well, we had a lot of work to get in,” Rader said. “Still do. We’ve got another long one set for (today).”
If this was to be an endurance test, Rader seemed pleased with the results, particularly when he watched veteran outfielders Chili Davis and Claudell Washington enlist for the postgame session with McNair.
“Those people are setting a very fine example,” Rader said. “I didn’t see anything disappointing today. Everything was a plus.
“All the effort that went into it, all the things that were done well. There was not one negative out there.”
Rader mentioned the pitching of Kirk McCaskill and Mike Fetters as highlights of the intra-squad game. McCaskill, recuperating from the arm injury that sidelined him for the last two months of the 1988 season, threw two scoreless innings, and Fetters, the club’s No. 1 draft choice in 1986, impressed Rader with a consistently lively fastball.
“Mike Fetters did a very good job,” Rader said. “He had very good command of his pitches and above-average stuff across the board.”
Rader was vocal throughout the game, most often imploring his pitchers to work more quickly and cut the lag time between pitches.
That makes for faster baseball--and, according to Rader, better baseball.
“I want people to get in sync--get the ball and put it play,” he said. “The games that are so prolonged, I don’t know why it’s got to be that way.
“I think it takes the edge off when a pitcher takes so much time on the mound. You show that much indecision and I think it adds to the confidence of the person you’re competing against. Even if it’s not indecision, it still projects that way.”
So, Tuesday’s lessons were simple ones for the Angels. Long practices are good, long baseball games are bad.
And just to make sure the point got across, they’ll do it one more time today.
Because of Jim Abbott’s hamstring injury, the Angels were short a pitcher for Tuesday’s intra-squad game, so Urbano Lugo wound up pitching both halves of the ninth inning. He also wound up with the save--and the loss. The score was tied, 2-2, when Lugo allowed a one-run double by outfielder Marcus Lawton and a run-scoring hit by catcher Darrell Miller in the top of the ninth. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, Lugo retired the side without surrendering a run, saving the 4-2 victory for pitcher of record Carl Willis.
Abbott’s injury didn’t stop him from throwing in the bullpen, and he is expected to take his scheduled turn against San Diego in Friday’s B game. “Today was purely preventive,” Manager Doug Rader said. “He’ll pitch Friday.”
Kevin McNair’s running seminar went over big with the Angels, with several improving their home-to-first base sprint times. After one session, Wally Joyner had sliced two-tenths of a second off his regular time to first. McNair’s two-day visit ends today, but Rader plans to extend the coach another invitation. “We didn’t want to shove it down the players’ throats,” Rader said. “We just wanted to see how it worked out. Now, I think we’ll bring him back when we get to Palm Springs.”
Rookie pitcher Vinicio Cedeno agreed to terms for the 1989 season, reducing the Angels’ list of unsigned players to six. Club Vice President Mike Port has set Friday, the start of the exhibition season, as his cut-off for contract negotiations. Any players unsigned then will have their contracts automatically renewed, Port said.