No matter how bad things seemed, how low his batting average dipped or how persistently he was mentioned in trade rumors, Angel center fielder Devon White considered himself fortunate.
At least he wasn’t playing for the New York Yankees.
“With Dave Winfield being here, he told me everything has happened to him that can happen to a human being,” White said. “He went through all that and he’s a class act.
“It could be worse. I could be working nine to five. I try to remember that.”
For those who have seen him struggling at the plate and forgot he can hit with power, White provided a reminder Friday by with two home runs and three runs batted in during the Angels’ 7-2 rout of the Cleveland Indians, which ended their three-game losing streak.
White hit 24 home runs as a rookie in 1987 but had 11 in 1988 and 12 last season. He had five this season before he hit a two-run shot over the left-center fence off Jeff Kaiser from the right side of the plate in the seventh. He hit a liner off the right-field foul pole in the ninth from the left side of the plate against Cecilio Guante.
That duplicated a feat he accomplished June 23, 1987, against Texas’ Charlie Hough and Mitch Williams in his other two-home run game. It also gave Angel starter Jim Abbott enough of a cushion to pitch his first complete game this season.
Abbott (5-6) retired 15 consecutive batters after Sandy Alomar led off the fifth with a single to center to join teammates Bert Blyleven (two), Chuck Finley and Mark Langston (one each) as owners of complete games.
“Abbott was excellent,” said White, who also singled to help ruin the major league debut of Cleveland starter Charles Nagy, a friend of Abbott’s from the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.
“I don’t know if it was his cutter or slider, but he broke four, five bats. He was awesome.”
Awesome also has been used to describe White’s talents, which seemed about to blossom after his rookie season. Awful was a more accurate description of his offensive performance much of this season.
“He had a great night and that’s wonderful to see,” Angel Manager Doug Rader said. “He needs that kind of situation to get his confidence back. He can be, as everybody knows, the real key to our ballclub the rest of the way.
“Do I want him to think of himself as a power hitter? I want him to think of himself as a hitter, period. . . . He understands basically what it takes. It’s a matter of application. He’s trying, and that’s all that counts. It’s nice to see that effort rewarded.”
Abbott, who is 5-2 on the road this season and winless at Anaheim Stadium in 12 starts since last July, had to make a conscious effort to slow down his delivery Friday. He yielded a leadoff home run in the second to Candy Maldonado--the first home run he gave up in 31 1/3 innings since Cleveland’s Cory Snyder’s on May 28--and another run in the third on a walk, a single anda sacrifice fly by Mitch Webster before he stopped rushing.
“I just got more in tune with my mechanics,” said Abbott, who walked one and struck out two. “It’s important for me to step back, get a little less emotional and tell myself, ‘Try a little less hard.’ The lineup we have out there is a good defensive lineup and they were awesome tonight.”
The Angels offense also was impressive against Nagy, whom Abbott said looked “a little bit nervous.” They took a 2-1 lead in the third on a single by Dick Schofield, two walks, Wally Joyner’s sacrifice fly and Lance Parrish’s run-scoring single.
Although the Indians tied it in the inning, the Angels regained the lead in the fourth and never looked back. Max Venable’s single in the fourth capped a two-out rally. Donnie Hill made it 4-2 in the fifth with a sacrifice fly.
White’s seventh-inning home run scored Parrish, who had singled, and White applied the final flourish with his two-out homer off Guante. “Everybody pitched in,” Abbott said. “It was a good way to start the trip.”
White, who raised his batting average to .218 and his RBI total to 20, wants to stay with the Angels.
“I have family that called me up and said, ‘We’re going to get a plane ticket and come out to see you in August,’ and I told them, ‘Hold up. I don’t want you to come here if I’m not here,’ ” he said. “It’s tough to say what’s going on.
“I don’t have any problems (with the Angels). Why wouldn’t you want to play in Southern California (instead of) Cleveland?”
Second baseman Johnny Ray (sore shoulder) is expected to be activated from the disabled list today, and catcher Bill Schroeder (sore elbow) isn’t far behind. However, Manager Doug Rader wants pitcher Greg Minton (elbow surgery) to throw at least once more before activating him. Rader said he may keep 11 pitchers when Minton is healthy, one more than he now has. Given that and given the abundance of infielders when Ray returns, it’s likely that an infielder will be removed from the roster. The likely candidate is Rick Schu, because Donnie Hill can back up Jack Howell at third and Kent Anderson can relieve Dick Schofield at short. Rader was mum Friday about possible moves. “It will all be taken care of at the appropriate time,” he said.