Chuck Finley is headed home and, for the Angels, it will be good news if he only winds up on the 15-day disabled list.
The alternative is losing him for the season with a stress fracture, a prospect doctors were calling a 50-50 proposition after studying the results of Wednesday's bone scan on Finley's left foot.
Citing abnormalities on the bone scan, the Angels' medical staff sent Finley to Inglewood, where his foot will be re-examined today by Lewis Yocum, the team physician, at Centinela Hospital Medical Center.
Yocum will determine if Finley is suffering from a stress fracture or a ligament sprain--which, in turn, will determine whether the Angel pitcher will miss three starts or the last six weeks of the season.
"The DL is a foregone conclusion," Angel Manager Doug Rader said. "The bottom line is if it's broken or not. If it's broken, he's out of the year."
Finley, the Angels' winningest pitcher at 14-8, injured his foot while warming up before Monday's game in Kansas City. He twisted his ankle while pushing off the pitching rubber and rolled over on the foot, apparently aggravating an old basketball injury. He lasted less than an inning, throwing only 17 pitches before hobbling off the mound in pain.
Before Wednesday's bone scan, the Angels were figuring on skipping Finley's next turn in the rotation, scheduled for Saturday in Texas. Now they are planning to recall a pitcher from triple-A Edmonton, either Terry Clark or Mike Fetters.
Clark, 28, was 6-6 with a 5.07 earned-run average while pitching the last three months of the 1988 season with the Angels. This year in Edmonton, he is 11-5 with a 3.58 ERA in 20 starts.
Fetters, 24, is 12-7 with a 3.96 ERA in 24 starts with Edmonton. A hard thrower, Fetters has struck out 136 batters in 159 innings this season.
"Certain things have to be weighed," Rader said. "Do we go with a guy who's already had a bit of success on the major league level, or do you go with someone who's showing consistency for the first time in his career, but has the better stuff?"
Angel reliever Dan Petry is another possibility to succeed Finley in the rotation, but Rader and pitching coach Marcel Lachemann both say they are reluctant to tamper with the bullpen.
"We can't realistically expect anybody in our bullpen to come in and go more than five innings," Lachemann said. "If you do that, then you're looking at using two or three (more) people to finish up.
"The way our pitching's set up, we're not sure we want to do that."
Either way, the Angels are going to be strapped to replace a starting pitcher who ranks fourth in the American League in ERA at 2.55, fourth in strikeouts with 142, and first in complete games with nine.
"We can (fill) the position, but we can't replace the person," Rader said. "This is something we're going to have to deal with.