BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : ANGELS : Valera Says He’s the Right Man to Be a Starter


It has become a familiar refrain among coaches and front-office personnel in the Angel camp: “We’ve got to find a right-handed starter.”

Julio Valera sees no reason to panic. He’s right-handed. He starts. So what’s the problem?

“I don’t think they need to look elsewhere,” said Valera, 26, of San Sebastian, Puerto Rico. “I feel good. I want to show them my arm is back.”

The arm is definitely back. Whether it’s a major league arm has yet to be determined.

Valera hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since June 1993. He was projected as the Angels’ No. 3 starter behind Mark Langston and Chuck Finley that season but experienced elbow problems in spring training.


He started the season 3-6 with a 6.62 ERA, but by June his elbow was in tatters. He underwent reconstructive ligament surgery and sat out the rest of the season.

Valera also missed the first 3 1/2 months of 1994 before making 16 rehabilitation starts at Class A Lake Elsinore, double-A Midland and triple-A Vancouver, where his results were mixed.

But his arm strength improved dramatically during the winter league season in Puerto Rico, where he went 2-2 with a 1.13 ERA in nine starts, and now he’s trying to show Manager Marcel Lachemann that he can provide solid right-handed pitching amid all the lefties in the rotation.

“He’s not quite where he was two years ago, but he’s a long way ahead of where he should be,” Lachemann said. “His velocity is as good as it was; it’s just a matter of maintaining it.”

Valera is trying to spot his fastball and curve better, and he has developed a changeup, which he hopes to use instead of relying so much on a forkball.

“I don’t want to use the forkball a lot because I think that was the pitch that hurt my elbow,” he said. “I know I’ve missed a year and a half, but I feel stronger. I just have to prove I can still get people out. If I do the job, I’ll get a spot in the rotation. If I don’t, I go home.”



Aspiring utility player Mark Dalesandro went to Mexico during the winter, hoping to improve his catching skills, but all he caught was a stomach virus that flattened him for more than a month.

Dalesandro returned to Los Angeles in early December for treatment, then went home to Chicago, but it took several weeks before he regained his strength. He lost 15 pounds.

“I woke up in the middle of the night with the shakes and a fever of 104,” said Dalesandro, who spent 2 1/2 months with the Angels last season. “Being in a clinic so far away from home and not knowing much Spanish made it a very scary situation. I was happy to get back to L.A.”


First baseman J.T. Snow, who split last season between Anaheim and Vancouver, has agreed to terms of a one-year contract for $200,000 and incentives, based on plate appearances, that could push his salary to $225,000. That’s essentially the same deal he had in 1994.

“I’m not one to complain about money,” Snow said. “If I have a good year, things will take care of themselves.”

Outfielder Kevin Flora and relief pitcher Mike James also agreed to one-year contracts for the major league minimum of $109,000. They have split contracts that will pay in the $30,000 range if they play triple-A.



Relief pitcher Mitch Williams strained his right thigh muscle, and infielder Rene Gonzales strained his left rib cage in practice Monday. Both will be on a day-to-day basis. . . . The first of two intrasquad games is scheduled today in Tempe Diablo Stadium. There will be another Wednesday before the exhibition season opens Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers at Tempe.