MESA, Ariz. — Darrell Miller, the man who would be catcher, knows what knocks and bruises and assorted contusions await him as the Angels accelerate his learning program behind the plate this spring.
But the scar Miller was displaying around the batting cage had nothing to do with a fouled tip or a knuckleball in the dirt.
This small gash, dotting the hairline above his left eye, was a reminder of a not-so-pleasant Saturday drive two weeks ago through Flagstaff.
Miller and his girlfriend, Kelly Kinnane, were in Arizona to attend Angel pitcher Kirk McCaskill's wedding and, after the ceremony, decided to take a drive north to see the Grand Canyon.
But while winding through the snowy, mountainous roads near Flagstaff, Miller's rental car was totaled when an oncoming driver skidded on the slippery road and plowed into Miller and Kinnane.
Miller wound up with stitches in his forehead. Miller said Kinnane suffered whiplash and is undergoing physical therapy.
But, according to Miller, it could have been worse.
"It had been snowing hard that day and this lady just lost control of her car," Miller said. "She would've hit us head-on, but I swerved to avoid her.
"She still hit us on the side. There was nothing else I could've done. It was really frustrating, just sitting there and watching her coming."
Both Miller and Kinnane were hospitalized. Kinnane's injury was serious enough to cause her to miss more than two weeks of work. Miller considered himself fortunate to be in uniform as Angel pitchers and catchers opened workouts over the weekend.
"That shows the importance of seat belts," he said, slipping a batting helmet over the scar as a protective measure.
Then he stepped into the cage to take some swings against Ken Forsch.
The Angels' pet project of the spring was simply glad to see the experiment reach the test lab.
Manager Gene Mauch is excited about Miller's potential as a catcher, but finding some support for starter Bob Boone, who caught a career-high 150 games in 1985, remains a high priority for General Manager Mike Port.
"I imagine if Boonie had his way, he'd catch 165 out of 162 games," Port joked. "But with catcher being the (demanding) position that it is, we're still keeping our eyes and our ears open on that front.
"We still have Jerry Narron and I'm anxious to see what Darrell Miller can do. But if you'd ask me what we would do for an every day catcher if Boone went down, I wouldn't have an answer.
"We have yet to find Bob Boone No. 2."
Angel Notes Don Sutton's customary late arrival hasn't gone unnoticed by his teammates. Above Sutton's empty locker Sunday was a message jokingly scrawled on a swatch of adhesive tape: "Did you forget your visa? " . . . Gene Mauch has been impressed by his early glimpses of Ken Forsch, attempting to come back after two years of inactivity. "The way he was throwing down in the bullpen (Saturday), nobody in the world was gonna hit him," Mauch said. . . . More Mauch: On relief pitcher Carl Willis, obtained from Cincinnati during the winter draft: "Pete Rose told me, 'You're gonna like that man." On rookie pitcher Ray Chadwick: "Remember that name. I don't know when it's gonna happen, but it is gonna happen for him."