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Angel Notebook : There's a Younger, Power-Hitting Reggie in Camp

February 25, 1986|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

MESA, Ariz. — Donnie Moore spotted the power-hitting right fielder as he entered the Angels' clubhouse Monday morning and immediately started chanting: "Reggie! Reggie! . . . "

It brought a smile to Reggie's face. He likes the chant.

Never mind that this Reggie has not hit 530 major league home runs, doesn't have a fleet of rare foreign automobiles and isn't called Mr. October.

Reggie Montgomery hasn't been around long enough to get a nickname.

But the rookie from Los Angeles Fremont High, Orange Coast College and USC, has a reputation for hitting baseballs over outfield fences. With that swing--and that first name--it's hard not to bring up Jackson when one is talking to Montgomery.

"It's starting to become a thing," Montgomery said. "People are bringing it around, now that I'm moving into the picture slightly."

And how does Jackson feel about it? Well, Montgomery assures that this is no case of dueling Reggies.

"Reggie is very helpful to me," Montgomery said. "He pushes me, gives me advice about hitting. I'm sure he's in my corner.

"He also tells me what he'd done when he was my age. He told me, 'When I was 22, I hit 47 home runs for Oakland.' I looked at him and said, 'Well, there's only one Reggie Jackson.' "

When Reggie Montgomery was 22, last year, he hit 22 home runs and drove in 101 runs for the Angels' double-A club at Midland, Tex. But those numbers should come with an asterisk attached.

Montgomery missed the last month of the season with a broken foot--an injury that caused him to get an early start on the 1986 season. Invited to his first major league camp, Montgomery reported to Mesa Saturday, the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers.

"I missed so much of last year," he said. "I haven't played since Aug. 8. Right now, I need all the baseball I can get."

He's also doing some running to try to shed weight. Montgomery weighed in at 232 pounds, usually plays at 225 and wants to get down to 220.

Monday, he got his first view of Donnie Moore from inside the batting cage. With Moore pumping and throwing hard, Montgomery could manage only a few infield choppers and some high outfield flies.

"Boy, his ball really moves," Montgomery said as he stepped out of the cage. "I can see why he had the year he did last season."

Montgomery realizes that his purpose here this spring is to catch the eye of the Angel coaches before heading to Edmonton for a season in triple-A. Manager Gene Mauch said that the chances of Montgomery's making the 25-man roster are "pretty remote."

Said Mauch: "For me to get excited about a player, he has to show the world he's way too good for the league he just played in. I mean, he has to devastate the league."

So, Mauch is waiting for Montgomery to wreck the Pacific Coast League in 1986.

But Moose Stubing, the Angels' batting instructor, sees some potential in this Reggie.

"He has enough of a big swing," Stubing said. "It looks like he can handle (pitchers') mistakes. I've seen him jump on some mistakes and just crush 'em."

And those who witnessed the annual preseason workout between USC and the Dodgers in 1982 also know of Montgomery's potential. Playing outfield for the Trojans, Montgomery hit two home runs off Dodger pitching that day.

"That's what most people know about me," Montgomery said.

He's hoping there will be more to tell at this time next year.

With the start of spring training overlapping the end of college basketball season, Stubing is splitting time as an Angel coach and a basketball official.

Stubing has officiated 22 games in the Western Athletic Conference, Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. and Southwest Conference this year, with three to go. His next assignment is Friday night in Provo, Utah, where Colorado State will play Brigham Young.

Last week, Stubing worked the Nevada Las Vegas-Fresno State game. The Rebels can be torture for a referee--the basketball team is known as the Runnin' Rebels--but Stubing survived.

"It was an easy game," he joked. "It was a 1 p.m. start, and Vegas got a late wake-up call. They were tired. They only scored 75 points."

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