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Angels Buoyed by Rookie

Times Staff Writer

Doug Rader has a sink-or-swim theory about rookies and the Angel manager has no qualms about throwing them directly into heavy seas.

He inserted outfielder Dante Bichette into the opening-day lineup while veterans Claudell Washington and Chili Davis sat on the bench. Shortstop Kent Anderson was in the starting lineup two days after being recalled from Edmonton.

The latest addition to the list is rookie right-hander Rich Monteleone.

Monteleone was called up from Edmonton Monday, and Wednesday night he found himself in deep water--the bases loaded with no one out in a 0-0 game--but he stayed afloat and picked up his first major league victory as the Angels beat the Orioles, 2-0, before 19,564 fans at Memorial Stadium.

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Starter Bert Blyleven had stranded Baltimore baserunners in each of the first seven innings but had run out of gas. Brian Harvey, the ace of the bullpen, had a stiff back, so Rader signaled for the newest Angel to pitch the eighth.

At first, it didn’t look like a very wise decision.

Brady Anderson led off with a single, then Monteleone walked Phil Bradley and Steve Finley to load the bases. But Monteleone escaped the jam by striking out Cal Ripken and getting designated hitter Larry Sheets to bounce back to the mound for an inning-ending double play.

Then Jack Howell, who is batting .163, hit his third homer of the season to lead off the ninth. Anderson walked, and Johnny Ray hit a run-scoring single to give the Angels a two-run lead. Monteleone pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, and the Angels had their seventh shutout of the season.

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“Rich has been in triple-A, and I’m not sure he’s boned up on the rules,” Rader said. “You can’t create your own save situations. You’ve got to go for the win there.

“I think I need a heart transplant.”

Others felt the same way when Rader bypassed Greg Minton (1.65 earned-run average) and Bob McClure (1.08) in favor of Monteleone.

“You’ve got to show patience and let these people respond,” Rader said. “It’s important for them to learn to persevere. You don’t want them to sit around and start talking themselves out of believing they belong here.”

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Monteleone barely had time to unpack--his suitcase ended up in New York instead of Baltimore Tuesday--let alone talk himself out of anything.

“To tell you the truth, I was really surprised to get the call,” he said. “And to tell you the truth, I was really nervous.”

It showed. After the single to Anderson, he walked Bradley and Finley on nine pitches. But he regained his composure long enough to get Ripken on three slow curves.

Then Sheets hit the bouncer back to the mound. Monteleone leaped to field the ball and tentatively lobbed it to the plate, forcing Lance Parrish to gun his throw to first to complete the double play.

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“After Ripken struck out, I was hoping for a miracle,” Monteleone said. “When I got the miracle, I wanted to make sure I didn’t throw the ball up in the stands.”

If Monteleone was the unlikely hero, Howell was certainly a close second. He has six hits in his last 20 at-bats; before that, he was mired in a three-of-44 slump.

“It felt good because it was one of those situations where we got great pitching again and it helped us out of a tough spot,” Howell said of his homer. “He (Baltimore starter Bob Milacki) had started me off with a changeup the last time up, and this time I was expecting it.”

Milacki then walked Anderson, and Oriole Manager Frank Robinson brought in Mark Williamson. Williamson retired Brian Downing, and Anderson took second on Wally Joyner’s ground-out, before Johnny Ray lined an RBI single to center.

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Blyleven, who already has three complete games this season and has had 10 or more complete games in a season 11 times, gave up six hits in the first seven innings. He threw 100 pitches but said later it felt like 150.

Angel Notes

Claudell Washington’s 15-year-old daughter, Camille, who was injured Tuesday when a lamp fell on the back of her neck while she was making her bed, has been moved out of intensive care but remains in John Muir Hospital in Orinda, Calif. The lamp bruised the brain stem, according to Manager Doug Rader, who talked with Washington Wednesday, and swelling in the area has caused partial paralysis. “Hopefully, (the paralysis) is only temporary,” Rader said. “There is also the danger of a blood clot. But she’s improving and that’s the important thing.” Rader said Washington sounded concerned but was handling the situation well. “When he’s able to rejoin us, he’ll do so,” Rader said. “And he’ll be the sole judge of that.”

Shortstop Dick Schofield, on the disabled list because of a strained chest muscle for 22 days, will be activated today, but the Angels won’t announce who will be sent down until today. Chances are outfielder Brian Brady will be the one. Schofield might or might not start tonight, depending on the weather in Toronto. “I’d like to keep him warm and loose,” Rader said. “It’s supposed to be cold, so I might protect him a little.”

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Right-hander Terry Clark, who had been on the disabled list all season because of a rotator cuff injury, was reinstated and optioned to triple-A Edmonton. In two rehabilitation assignments with Edmonton, Clark was 1-0 with a 7.27 earned-run average. . . . Rookie Dante Bichette was tied with Cleveland’s Oddibe McDowell for the major league lead in outfield assists with five going into Wednesday’s games.


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