Angels Win and Begin a New Era : Baseball: Farrell, Grahe combine to beat Royals, 5-4, in Manager Marcel Lachemann's return to club.


The temporary scoreboard at Anaheim Stadium displayed video clips of Marcel Lachemann's introductory news conference as the Angels' new manager before their game Thursday night.

The fans watched. They listened. The videotape ended, and they sat in stony silence.

They made it quite clear that it's going to take time to warm up to the idea. Certainly, they haven't been telephoning the Angel switchboard these past few days to exchange pleasantries.

The Angels realize there is one way to put an end to this public-relations fiasco, and Lachemann did just that Thursday night, managing the Angels to a 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals before 20,595.

The Angels celebrated the victory by dousing Lachemann with beer. When he got to his office, the telephone was ringing and there was a bottle of champagne waiting. His brother, Rene Lachemann, manager of the Florida Marlins, was on the phone. The champagne was courtesy of the entire Marlin team.

"The emotion of Rene calling was nice. It means a lot," Lachemann said. "It went by quick. I don't know how long the game lasted, but it seemed fast. There sure are a lot more things to be involved in.

"It was sweet, there's no doubt about that."

There might have been no one who enjoyed the evening more than his 93-year-old father, Bill Lachemann, who was listening to the game. He may be too frail to go to the ballpark any longer, but it hardly curtailed his fervor.

"It's a big day for the whole family," he said. "This is a day I'll never forget."

John Farrell, making his first major league start of the season, single-handedly assured that Lachemann's debut would be a success. He gave up only six hits and three runs (two earned) in 7 2/3 innings, and his eight strikeouts were the most he has had since Sept. 5, 1989.

The only thing that prevented him from pitching a complete game was Wally Joyner's sharp grounder off his right foot. Farrell was taken for X-rays, which proved negative. Joe Grahe, who was appointed the Angels' full-time closer by Lachemann, pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for the save.

Lachemann, who stood on the pitcher's mound shaking hands with his team after the game, realizes nights such as these are desperately needed to help squelch the public's outrage over the firing of manager Buck Rodgers.

He realizes it will take time before Angel fans accept him, but he plans to stick around for a while. He signed a two-year contract through 1995 that provides him an automatic one-year severance.

The Angel front-office might continue to be publicly abused and threatened by fans terminating their support, but management was more convinced than ever Thursday that the right man had been hired.

"We respect the public's feelings, believe me, but we can not make decisions based on how the public will react," Angel President Richard Brown said. "If you're so concerned with the reactions, you might cower and not make the right decision that best benefits the organization.

"The most vociferous outpouring we had was after the (Jim) Abbott trade, and I fully understood that. He was a fan favorite and organization favorite. We know Buck was popular, as well.

"But I'm happy and optimistic because of Marcel Lachemann. I feel we have the right person as manager. I'm sure people will see the positive influence he has on this team."

Certainly, Lachemann's influence will be quite noticeable in the media. Gone are the days of the manager ridiculing players in the newspapers, chastising them on the airwaves or even criticizing them for lack of talent.

"The only time that I would say anything about a player would be if he showed lack of effort," Lachemann said. "I'm never going to say anything about a player's ability. If they're not good, we have to get them better. That's our job."

Rodgers' heavy criticism of his players helped trigger his firing. Club sources say Rodgers was warned about his style but refused to change.

"These kids are going to make some mistakes," Lachemann said. "But as long as they're aggressive mistakes and they're not repetitious, that's part of learning.

"And if you've got the patience to ride through that, you're going to develop some real fine players."

Lachemann, whose lone managerial experience before Thursday consisted of four games as an interim manager in 1992, doesn't say he will turn the team around. He makes no promises and certainly doesn't blame the Angels' 18-24 record on Rodgers.

"I'm not trying to fool anybody," Lachemann said. "I'll need help. I haven't handled a lineup card in 12 years. But I've been very fortunate to have been under a lot of very good managers and learn different things.

"John McNamara was a guy who made the game fun. Gene Mauch probably is the greatest strategist that I've ever been around. With Doug Rader, it was his intelligence, thoroughness and attention to detail. Buck was one of the better managers that I was ever with as far as handling a ballgame, and he was almost fearless in making moves.

"My brother Rene is a lot of those guys put together."

The fact that he was leaving Rene Lachemann made it difficult to accept the Angels' job. Marcel was perfectly was content to be his brother's pitching coach, and besides, with Bryan Harvey's expected return, he was convinced the Marlins had the finest pitching staff in the National League.

"When I told our team that he was leaving," Rene Lachemann said, "I broke down. I couldn't help it. I hate to lose the best pitching coach in the big leagues.

"I'm biased, of course, but he has all of the qualities to be a great manager. He has outstanding knowledge of the game, and he's extremely honest. People appreciate that.

"You watch and see if I'm not right."

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