The Angels solved a major problem in their bullpen Friday. No, not that problem--the one concerning their lack of any type of left-handed relief pitching.
And, considering the way most teams hoard that prize commodity, the price was relatively cheap.
After losing out to the Dodgers in their race to land the Seattle Mariners' Ed Vande Berg, the Angels acquired 31-year old left-hander Gary Lucas in exchange for right-handed reliever Luis Sanchez, who saved two games in 1985, and Tim Arnold, a minor league catcher.
Last year with the Expos, Lucas went 6-2 with one save and a 3.19 earned-run average as the left-handed set-up man for National League Fireman of the Year Jeff Reardon. He had eight saves for the Expos in 1984 and, with the San Diego Padres in 1983, saved a 17 games, his best season.
"That was before San Diego had (Goose) Gossage," Lucas said from his home in Escondido. "If Gossage was there then, I wouldn't have ever sniffed short relief. I'm by no means a Reardon or a Gossage or a (Dave) Righetti, but I have experience in a lot of different situations.
"I've started, I've been used in the fifth and sixth innings, and I've been the guy in the ninth inning. I can be used in a lot of different roles."
The Angels are hoping to use Lucas the same way Montreal employed him--as left-handed support for their right-handed stopper. Of course, the Angels must first re-sign their right-handed relief ace, Donnie Moore, who is a free agent.
If not, this little winter trade could figure prominently in the Angels' summer plans. Right now, the Angels' top reliever under contract is Stewart Cliburn, who saved six games as a rookie in 1985.
"I've had some experience (in short relief)," said Lucas, a graduate of Riverside Poly High School and Chapman College in Orange. "If they ask that from me, I'd be very interested."
Sanchez, 32, never fulfilled the promise the Angels held for him when he anchored the club's bullpen during their American League Western Division championship season of 1982. He went 7-4 with five saves that year and Manager Gene Mauch said: "We would've never won the division without him."
Sanchez saved seven games in 1983 and 11 in 1984, but had just two saves while recording a 5.72 ERA last season. He bothered all season by a neck injury suffered during the winter of '84.
Arnold, 22, was selected by the Angels in the 12th round of last year's major league draft. He batted .364 in 23 games at Salem and .299 in 49 games at Redwood, both Class-A teams.