The Angels have consulted with doctors, looked up to the heavens and even dialed their psychic friends, searching for some way to explain this phenomenon.
They finally have reached a rational conclustion:
It’s the curse of Bryan Harvey.
The Angels, who committed the monumental blunder of leaving Harvey unprotected in last year’s expansion draft, watched in horror again as yet another closer was victimized by an arm injury.
The Angels, 5-1 losers Wednesday night to the Baltimore Orioles in front of 18,489 at Anaheim Stadium, discovered that reliever Mike Butcher has bone fragaments in his right elbow, and will undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery next week.
“It’s very disappointing and frustrating,” Butcher said. “I was pitching good and was confident out there. Buck (Rodgers) had confidence in me. And my teammates had confidence in me.
“Now, I feel like I let everybody down.”
Butcher, who underwent shoulder surgery last November, was being projected as the Angels’ closer for 1994. He had been successful in eight of 10 save situations since July, and whatever deficiencies he had on the mound, he compensated with his aggressiveness.
The Angels (59-73) now have no choice but to wonder if Butcher will be able to regain his form, and they certainly won’t have a clear conscious until seeing him pitch.
“It’s not really a major operation,” said Rodgers, Angel manager, “but every time you get cut on your arm, it’s major.”
Said Butcher: “If I came back from my shoulder injury, I’ll have no problem coming back from my elbow. It hurts, and I can’t extend my arm, but I really believe I’ll be fine.”
The Angels will replace Butcher with reliever Darryl Scott, who will be recalled today from triple-A Vancouver, where he had 15 saves and a 2.09 earned-run average, and be used occassionally in the closer’s role. They also are expected to activate reliever Scott Lewis next week.
Butcher becomes the fourth heir apparent to the stopper’s job to sustain a serious injury:
--Joe Grahe, whose 21 saves last year helped convince the Angels to make Harvey expendable, instead has been plagued most of the season by tendinitis in his right shoulder. He was on the disabled list one month because of the injury, and still has difficulty pitching back-to-back days without pain. Grahe (4-1, six saves) likely will be examined again at season’s end to determine if surgery is needed, Rodgers said.
--Troy Percival, projected to make the team in spring training and anointed as the stopper of the future, underwent season-ending elbow surgery in April.
--Ron Watson, who also was protected in the expansion draft and considered a closer-in-waiting, has been limited to only 46 1/3 innings at double-A Midland because of a strained right shoulder.
While the Angel relievers continue to drop, the team’s offense also has taken a sabbatical of late, this time being stymied by Oriole starter Ben McDonald (10-11). McDonald, whose fastball still was being clocked at 93 m.p.h. in the ninth inning, struck out a career-high 10 and yielded four hits.