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Looking to Future, Angels Make Parker Part of Past

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a move surprising by its timing rather than its execution, the Angels on Saturday released designated hitter Dave Parker, not quite six months after they had acquired him from the Brewers at the behest of former Manager Doug Rader.

The decision to waive Parker bears the stamp of the new manager, Buck Rodgers, who plans to give more playing time to youngsters such as Lee Stevens and continue phasing Dave Winfield into Parker’s DH spot.

Whitey Herzog, hired Friday as the club’s senior vice president and director of player personnel, was not involved in the decision. He doesn’t begin his duties until Sept. 16.

Other clubs have 72 hours to claim Parker, whom they would have to pay for the rest of the season. It’s believed the Toronto Blue Jays, who need a left-handed pinch-hitter with power, are interested in adding him to their roster.

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Parker, 40, was hitting .232 with 22 doubles, two triples, 11 home runs and 56 runs batted in in 119 games. His last hit as an Angel, a single on Tuesday in Boston, was the 2,700th of his career, placing him 44th on the all-time list. He is tied for 43rd in home runs with 339, 22nd in doubles with 522 and 28th in RBIs, with 1,490.

Parker was earning $1.4 million this season. He had asked the Angels this spring to extend his contract but instead was given back the option they held for 1992.

“The future of the Angels was not Dave Parker. He might help a club for some time, but we have only so many at-bats and we had to keep some for Lee Stevens or somebody else,” Rodgers said. “It’s not fair to a veteran like Dave Parker to keep him around if he’s not going to play.”

Although Parker’s loss of bat speed had become apparent, Rodgers wouldn’t go into particulars regarding Parker’s shortcomings. He was two for 15 on the Angels’ last trip to Milwaukee and Boston and didn’t start Friday against right-handed pitcher Chris Bosio.

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“I saw him in Cincinnati for a number of years, and he could sting the ball,” Rodgers said. “He’s a shadow of that player now. On occasion he’ll hurt you, but on most occasions, he’s not going to put that fear in the pitchers. He used to generate fear in the opposition.”

Parker took the news stoically.

“Basically, I wasn’t in the plans for the future and Mr. O’Brien (Senior Vice President Dan O’Brien) and I discussed that this morning,” Parker said. “I’m not the type of player who wants to sit around and watch, so this is the best thing at this time.

“I still feel I can play and I look forward to the opportunity of continuing, if not the rest of this season, then perhaps in 1992.”

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Acting now, rather than waiting for the off-season, enables the Angels to give Stevens regular playing time and measure his capabilities. A left-handed hitter with power, Stevens hit .314 with 19 homers and 96 RBIs for triple-A Edmonton this season. However, he hit 100 points less in 67 games with the Angels last season while filling in at first base for injured Wally Joyner.

Should Stevens succeed in this second chance, the Angels might then be able to let Joyner depart as a free agent. They also might re-sign Joyner but play Stevens in right field--as he has played the past two nights--and limit Winfield to designated-hitter duty.

“First of all, there is a club or two out there who would be interested in a left-handed hitter like Dave (Parker). Second, we’ve got to make room for some at-bats and innings for the kids--essentially Lee Stevens--to find out some things,” O’Brien said.

“Then, as recently as (Friday) night, Dave came to me and said his mother was sick and hospitalized in Cincinnati and that he might have to take some time to go back. So when you put these things together, it makes some sense.”

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Winfield felt the loss of a man he called “one of my contemporaries, a good friend and a great person,” but he declined to discuss his feelings about getting less time in the outfield and more as the designated hitter, as seems certain.

“There’s no sense creating a story. I’ve got my own thoughts,” Winfield said.

His thoughts on Parker were sympathetic. “I do not think at all this is the end of his career, and I’m only going to hope for the best for him,” said Winfield, who made his major league debut in the same year as Parker, 1973.

“They’re making a lot of changes. This is the beginning of those changes, and I’m sure it’s not the end. You read about the guys who are potential free agents. . . . You can’t envision what this team will look like when they’re done.”

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