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Angels Give Rader Reward: Contract Is Extended a Year

Times Staff Writer

Doug Rader sat in his Mesa, Ariz., office during the first week of spring training this season, detailing his previous managerial transgressions and giving thanks for a second chance.

“I just want to get it right this time,” said the new Angel manager, whose 2 1/2-year reign of terror as manager of the Texas Rangers had been well-chronicled.

His first season at the helm of the Angels is just slightly more than half over, but he must be doing something right these days. The Angels, who finished 29 games behind Oakland in the American League West last season, have the best record in baseball and a 1 1/2-game lead over the Athletics.

General Manager Mike Port obviously thinks that Rader has had a positive impact on the turnaround. Saturday, Port gave Rader a one-year contract extension. Each member of the current coaching staff was also invited to return in 1990.

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“I think the results of Doug’s efforts are self-explanatory,” Port said. “This organization has regained its confidence and direction of a couple of years ago. I believe the field staff is directly responsible for that change.”

Rader’s most obvious contributions have been creating a more relaxed atmosphere in the clubhouse and turning over the majority of the decisions regarding pitching to coach Marcel Lachemann.

“I’m honored,” Rader said. “I think it was a very nice gesture. I hope it lends stability to what we’re trying to do here. From a purely selfish standpoint, I’m not really overjoyed, though. I didn’t solicit this job and I’m not in it for the money. I’m doing it because I enjoy it. I enjoy working with these people and working for these people.”

Port, who deviated from a longstanding Angel policy not to negotiate contracts during the season to extend second baseman Johnny Ray’s contract Thursday, said he had been thinking about giving Rader an extension for some time. Port approached owner Gene Autry with the idea and received his endorsement.

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“We just felt it was appropriate at this point in time,” Port said. “We did it for the comfort of the players, so they would have things in place, to remove any doubts from their minds.

“The players, with their on-the-field contributions, have shown how they feel about Doug. And that’s the best recommendation I can get.”

When informed that Port had indicated his popularity with the players played a key role in the decision to extend his contract, Rader smiled. “If that’s the case, that makes it even nicer,” he said.

In his first year as a major league manager, 1983, Rader’s Rangers were 10 games over .500 and in first place in the AL West at the All-Star break.

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They finished that season 77-85, in third place.


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