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Spring Training / Angels : Mauch Wants Reggie to Play the Field

March 01, 1985|ROSS NEWHAN | Times Staff Writer

MESA, Ariz. — There was some hair-raising news involving Reggie Jackson here Thursday:

--He shaved his winter beard, in compliance with Manager Gene Mauch's rule banning full facial adornment.

--And Mauch said there is a chance Jackson will play right field quite frequently this season.

"I saw him have one great year as our right fielder," Mauch said, referring to 1982, when the Angels won a division title and Jackson tied for the American League lead with 39 homers. "And I saw him have two below-average years as a DH (in 1983 and '84).

"We won 93 games with Reggie in right, so he obviously didn't hurt us.

"I don't know if he can still do it, but I'll never know unless I try him there this spring. He'll play a lot, and he knows it. I've talked to him about it since November. I told him to come to camp in that kind of condition, that kind of frame of mind."

With Fred Lynn gone, the outfield plan is for Brian Downing to play left again, Gary Pettis to play center--providing he hits better than the .227 he hit last year--and the promising Mike Brown to get first crack in right.

There is also the possibility of a Brown-Ruppert Jones platoon, or a Brown-Jackson platoon.

Jackson, who became the designated hitter in 1983 when Don Baylor went to the Yankees as a free agent, has played 50 games in right during the last two years, but only three in 1984.

At 37, he can't be expected to play there regularly again, but both Jackson and Mauch believe he can be more productive with more involvement. That means occasional relief from the one-way aspect of the designated hitter's role, which stifles Jackson's social nature and forces him to think only of his hitting, carrying it from at-bat to at-bat.

"Gene recognizes that I'm a people person, that I'm more effective when I'm in the mainstream because I feed off the reaction of fans and other players," Jackson said.

"I think he's the type manager who looks at the entire picture and feels the club will benefit with Reggie Jackson playing more. I like the idea of him telling me to be ready because it puts a little more pressure on me, it keeps my intensity level up.

"I also realize that if Mike Brown is a world beater and Gary Pettis hits, I may not play there at all. I know what Gene's saying. I'm not taking this to mean I'm the right fielder. He did what was best for me in '82, and I trust him because of it. I think he gets the most out of players."

Asked if he can be relaxed in right, considering his lack of recent playing time, Jackson said he has been asking himself that question and doesn't have an answer.

"I was uncomfortable out there in '83 and nervous in '84," he said. "But when I thought about it later, I thought I had done a decent job. I'll never win a Gold Glove or be a whiz out there, but I can be OK. I know what's coming and can prepare. It's like riding a bike. You never really forget."

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