Forget Palm Springs. Skip the Freeway Series. And bring on the Chicago White Sox. Devon White’s ready for opening day and games that count, not to mention statistics that count.
The Angels’ center fielder went three for three with a stolen base Sunday during the Angels’ 10-8 victory over Seattle in Tempe Diablo Stadium. White, who has nine hits in his last 15 at bats, leads the team in batting (.467), hits (14), stolen bases (three), runs batted in (eight) and triples (two). He has driven in five runs in the last five games.
“Every time I see Devon White take a step, I get chills,” Angel Manager Doug Rader said early Sunday.
The temperature peaked at 93 degrees later in the day, but Rader still must have been a mass of goose bumps during this game.
“Devo’s in real good shape up there at the dish,” Rader said. “He’s locked in real nice. I just hope he can hang on to the feeling and carry it over to opening day and through the season.”
Not as much as White does. The Angel center fielder is eligible for arbitration next year. At this pace, he would have 284 hits, 162 RBIs and a whole lot of money in the bank by this time next year.
White admits he would like to feel this relaxed and confident when he steps to the plate on opening day, but says he’s concentrating on “not getting too high.”
“I’m just doing what Devon White does, nothing different,” he said. “It’d be nice to get off to a good start. You don’t want to fight from the cellar up. If anything, you’d like to start high and slowly go down.”
White knows all about uphill battles. He struggled in the early going last season and then it got worse in a hurry. He was hitting only .245 with two home runs and 11 RBIs on May 7 when he went on the 21-day disabled list after undergoing surgery to remove torn cartilage from his right knee.
He was reactivated June 10 and was hitless in his next 23 at-bats. He did have a couple of mid-summer streaks, though, and finished the season with a .259 average, 11 homers and 51 RBIs.
White is intent on improving those numbers this year and thinks some of the newest Angels will play an important role in that quest.
Rader has not yet decided exactly where in the order White will hit--he was batting third Sunday--but whether it’s second, third, fifth or sixth, White thinks he will see better pitches in 1989.
“I think having Claudell (Washington) and Lance Parrish in there will help, especially if I’m in the middle of the lineup somewhere,” he said. “Being surrounded by Washington, Parrish, (Wally) Joyner and (Chili) Davis will be real nice.”
But when it comes to the numbers game, White is almost embarrassed about last year’s stolen base total of 17. In 1987, when he was healthy all year, he stole 32 bases.
“I don’t know exactly what Rader thinks, but you hear all this stuff about how I’m one of the fastest players in the American League and then you see those numbers,” White said. “He must think, ‘What’s going on?’ ”
White has not had the OK to steal on his own in the past. So far this spring, though, Rader has set him loose.
“Maybe this year the organization will let me run like I can,” White said. “If I have a decent on-base percentage, I can steal 50 or 60.”
If he hits anything like he has this spring, he might steal 100.
Outfielder Dante Bichette continued his crusade to make the 24-man roster Sunday with his second three-run homer in the last four days. He also had a single to raise his average to .379. The Angels had 17 hits against Seattle pitching. Brian Downing also had a three-run homer and a single. Angel starter Chuck Finley yielded five hits and two runs in four innings. Reliever Bryan Harvey pitched two scoreless innings and allowed one hit. “A lot of guys did a lot of things well today,” Manager Doug Rader said. . . . The Angels announced Sunday that pitcher Moose Haas has been released from his Edmonton contract by mutual agreement. Haas has been plagued by shoulder problems. . . . Moose Stubing, the Angel third base coach who is down to 210 after losing almost 60 pounds, fell down while waving home Jack Howell in the ninth inning. “I didn’t see it, but I felt it,” Rader quipped. . . . Mike Fetters pitched four innings and allowed only one hit as the Angels beat San Diego, 11-3, in Sunday’s ‘B’ game. Jim Eppard and Jeff Manto had three hits each, Mike Ramsey had two triples and Doug Davis drove in three runs.
Rader says he is very pleased with the attitude in camp this spring, but he doesn’t want to dwell on it. “It’s relaxed here and people are very receptive to what we’re trying to do,” he said. “There’s a sort of quiet confidence. But I think it’s better not to talk about it. I subscribe to the theory that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” . . . Catcher Bill Schroeder, after looking over the Angels’ complicated pitching chart he was supposed to fill out during Sunday’s game: “Do you think Whitey Ford had to do this kind of stuff?” . . . Al Campanis was on hand Sunday in Tempe Diablo Stadium to watch his grandson, Jim Campanis, who is in camp with the Mariners. The former Dodger general manager said his soon-to-be-released book may be titled, “My Turn at Bat.”