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ANGELS : McCaskill Showing Staying Power

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Because elbow problems limited the innings Kirk McCaskill could pitch last season, Angel relievers were virtually guaranteed work when he started.

Judging by the six innings he pitched against the Cleveland Indians Saturday, the bullpen can no longer count on being busy when McCaskill is pitching.

Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed the surgery that eliminated bone chips and spurs from McCaskill’s right elbow, was among those who watched McCaskill give up two hits and strike out three in the Angels’ 10-0 romp at Angels Stadium. McCaskill used 81 pitches in his sharpest spring outing.

“The way my arm feels, I can be a nine-inning pitcher, but I’m not going to put that kind of pressure on myself,” said McCaskill, who recorded a career-low two complete games in 1990.

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“We’ve got a great closer (Bryan Harvey), and I have no problem turning the ball over after seven or eight innings. . . . To go at least seven, that’s my goal. I don’t care. I just want to win.”

McCaskill long ago declared the surgery a success, but he exceeded his own lofty expectations Saturday. He issued one walk, to Ron Kittle with one out in the second, and never put more than one runner on base in an inning. “I had a good sinker and I was able to get ahead of a lot of guys,” he said.

That was possible because of his curveball, which became his strikeout pitch. He thought he had forgotten the art of the strikeout, but he rediscovered it Saturday.

“I kind of surprised myself,” he said. “I threw a 3-and-2 curveball and had a pretty good breaking ball. If I throw my curve for strikes, I’ll probably strike out a lot of people.”

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Chuck Finley downplayed the ill effects of his strained left biceps, saying it’s no worse than anything he has experienced in past springs. He was examined Saturday by Yocum and is expected to make his next start Wednesday against the San Diego Padres.

Finley seemed surprised to hear Manager Doug Rader considered Finley’s problem worth mentioning to reporters Friday. When asked Saturday if he had experienced discomfort since camp began, as Rader suggested, Finley shrugged. “Dr. Rader knows it all,” Finley said.

Finley, the Angels’ top winner last season with 18 victories, plans to make his scheduled opening day start April 9 in Seattle. He is 1-2 this spring with a 9.90 earned-run average in 20 innings.

“I don’t see anything big about it,” Finley said of the tenderness in his pitching arm. “It comes and goes. It’s getting better. It’s not there all the time. It’s messed my delivery because I’m not getting my arm extended, and I’m a little bit wild with my release point. It’s nothing rest and some Tylenol won’t take care of.”

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Angel Notes

Dave Parker hit a two-run home run and drove in three runs, and Dave Winfield doubled twice and had an RBI to help the Angels end a three-game exhibition losing streak. . . . Floyd Bannister, Jeff Robinson and Bryan Harvey each worked a scoreless relief inning. Robinson hasn’t given up a run in his last four appearances; Bannister had given up a run in three of his previous four outings. . . . Right-hander Matt Keough was to have his pitching shoulder examined by team physician Lewis Yocum today at Centinela Hospital. . . . Third baseman Gary Gaetti had an ice pack on his left shin to ease discomfort there. He said the problem isn’t serious. . . . Right-hander Mike Fetters, who was hit hard Friday, worked on the mechanics of his delivery Saturday. “I just want to get back to where I was last season,” he said.


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