Even Greg Minton was speechless, which said volumes about his 1989 spring debut here Saturday.
“I have no idea where to begin,” Minton said after weathering two stormy innings that saw the Angel relief pitcher realize all his worst fears within a matter of minutes.
On the mound, Minton began by walking the first San Diego Padre he faced and yielding a single to the second.
Two outs later, he wild-pitched home a run.
Then he walked Garry Templeton.
Then he allowed a run-scoring single to Mark Parrent.
Then he walked Ed Whitson, the Padre pitcher.
Then he walked Joey Cora, forcing home a third run.
Finally, he struck out Randy Ready to retire the side and squelch the chaos . . . only to rev it up again the next inning by botching Tony Gwynn’s leadoff infield dribbler, which eventually led to another run.
“Let’s see,” Minton said. “I made one error, I crossed up the catcher three times, I gave up five hits and four walks. I don’t know where to start.
“I’m pretty sure I impressed Doug, though.”
This was new Angel Manager Doug Rader’s first glimpse of Minton in an exhibition game, but first impressions can be deceiving.
At least, that’s what Minton is hoping.
“Last spring, I had an elbow problem, but that’s fine now,” Minton said. “Over the winter, I had my knee (surgically repaired) and it feels fine. Right now, I feel great--I just can’t get the ball within 18 inches of the plate.”
Truly, this was an outing that defied explanation. Words wouldn’t suffice, although Minton tried anyway.
“My ball was really moving today,” he said. “The catcher is telling me, ‘Just throw it over the middle of the plate--it’s sinking good today.’
“I think I was supposed to go three innings. I only went two, but it was the equivalent of six.”
By the time Minton staggered off the mound after his final pitch, Rader was waiting in the Angel dugout with more than a few words of advice. What followed was a brief endorsement of the power of positive thinking.
“I think with Greggie, he fights himself too much mentally,” Rader told reporters afterward. “He’s a fun guy, very loosey-goosey during workouts, and he projects himself as a happy-go-lucky guy.
“But out there today, he looked like he was trying to grind so hard. He ends up digging himself in a hole.”
Besides Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Padres, the Angels also suffered an injury to first baseman Wally Joyner, who hurt his lower back sliding into second base in the fourth inning. Actually, it was lower than that, the official medical diagnosis being “strained left buttock.” Joyner said he didn’t expect to miss any games because of the strain, but Manager Doug Rader is planning on holding him out a few days. “I’m thinking he’ll be ready by Tuesday or Wednesday,” Rader said. . . . Chuck Finley started for the Angels and pitched three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks. “He threw it hard and low and over the plate,” Rader said. “He did a great job.”
Bob McClure and Bryan Harvey worked the last three innings. McClure yielded two hits in two innings, Harvey one hit in one inning. “Fair,” was McClure’s postgame assessment. “My location was bad. It’ll come, I’m just a little rusty right now.” McClure, who had been experimenting with a knuckleball earlier in camp, scrapped the pitch Saturday--and for the near future. “I kind of stayed away from the junk,” he said. “I have other things to work on. I’ve got to concentrate of getting hitters out, getting ahead in the count and making the team.” . . . The Angels also lost the B game, managing just three singles in a 6-0 loss to San Diego. Outfielder Mike Ramsey had two of the hits, with Lee Stevens getting the other.