Angel President Richard Brown is neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the chances for a settlement to the 7 1/2-month strike this week, but he does have one gloomy prediction.
"If it doesn't end this week, we're going to be in for the long haul because I can't see ownership changing the proposal they're giving to the players this week," Brown said. "This will be as good an offer the union will receive."
The owners offered a six-year deal Monday in which the sides would play 1995 under the old rules.
Brown said if the regular season starts with replacement players, owners will likely remain committed to the concept because they have put so much time, money and effort into it. That was a scary thought for Brown when he came to Arizona in February, but he has since warmed up to the replacements.
"I admit I was not excited about these players when I got here," Brown said. "But I've learned to admire their courage, their love of the game and their 100% hustle. By no means are they at the level of major league stars, but I think they'll be pretty competitive."
Brown said the most frustrating aspect of the labor dispute is the uncertainty.
"If you have an illness that is curable, a doctor can diagnose when it's going to be over," Brown said. "When you have a malady like this strike, nobody can tell how long it's going to last. I want some comfort knowing this is going to end."
Manager Marcel Lachemann wouldn't confirm it, but it appears that right-hander Darrel Akerfelds, who joined the Angels Saturday, will be the team's opening-day starter against the Milwaukee Brewers next Tuesday in Anaheim Stadium.
Lachemann said Akerfelds will remain in Arizona to make a minor league start Thursday, meaning his next start, after four days rest, would be next Tuesday. The rest of the team will travel to Orange County after Wednesday's game against the Padres.
Akerfelds, who was 5-2 with a 3.77 earned-run average for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990, has the most major league experience of any potential starter on the Angel replacement staff, having appeared in 125 big league games.
Tony Mack will start Friday night's Freeway series opener against the Dodgers in Anaheim Stadium. Kevin Uhlich, Angel vice president of operations, said 11,000 tickets have been sold for Friday's game and 17,500 for the season opener.
The replacement Angels' five-game winning streak ended Monday as the San Diego Padres took advantage of a five-run third inning to win, 9-6, before 889 in Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Five Padre pitchers combined to walk 13, but the Angels, who had 10 or more hits in 10 of their previous 12 games, had only seven hits and grounded into three double plays.
Angel starter Jim Campbell gave up seven runs on seven hits, including three home runs--two by center fielder Keith Thomas. Chris Powell and Tom Redington each had two hits for the Angels, but Redington grounded into two of the double plays.
KTLA, which canceled two scheduled Angel spring-training telecasts, has not decided whether to televise regular-season replacement games. But Brown said he has notified the station that the Angels will not accept any reduction in rights fees for the 50-game package.
"But we would be willing to back load the schedule (move telecasts to later in the season) if that helps them," Brown said. "We're still negotiating, but I'm confident we'll reach an amicable solution."