MESA, Ariz. — Reggie Jackson has yet to sign a 1986 contract and says he wants to meet with Angel General Manager Mike Port Saturday before he does. Because the Angels want to move Jackson from right field to designated hitter, Jackson considers himself out of a job and feels unwanted.
Buzzie Bavasi, who signed Jackson to his first Angel contract in 1982, suggests that Reggie should act his age.
"Reggie is 40 years old," Bavasi said Thursday from his home in La Jolla. "He forgets that he can't bat .350 and hit 45 home runs, the way he once did. He has to realize what his potential is at age 40.
"Reggie forgets that we all get old and our bodies are not as quick as they used to be. His value to the team right now is as the DH. I think you and I and most people who know the Angels would argue that they have better outfielders, defensively.
"(Darrell) Miller is better. (George) Hendrick is better. You couldn't say that two or three years ago, but it's true now. And if I saw Reggie, I would tell him so, face to face."
Bavasi may get his chance. The former Angel general manager, who retired after the 1984 season, is planning to spend several days next week at the Angels' training complex here.
Bavasi said he had talked with Port about Jackson and disagrees with Jackson's claim this winter that the Angels wanted to phase him out.
"This is not true," Bavasi said. "Mike feels the same way I do--that Reggie Jackson is still very valuable to the California Angels.
"I think he'll have a good year. Not a Hall of Fame year, but a good one. He's still the straw that stirs the drink."
After six days of pitcher-catcher drills, the Angels will have their first full-squad workout today, and the emphasis, according to Manager Gene Mauch, will be on the obvious--hitting.
"We need more consistent hitting from the people who should be providing it," said Mauch, whose team finished last in the American League in batting last year with a .251 average.
"Bobby Grich and Doug DeCinces batted in the .240s. Ruppert Jones batted .230. To me, that's ridiculous."
Mauch has a special greeting planned for all the hitters.
"For the first two days, they're going to be wondering what the hell is going on," Mauch said. "First off, they'll all get seven pitches (in the batting cage) and they'll have to play hit-and-run with each of them.
"Some of them may not like it. There may be all kinds of funny comments--'I'm not a hit-and-run guy.' But the first part of practice will be for me, and the second part will be for them. This year, I want to get as much out of our outs as we possibly can."
Mauch said he was eager to watch rookie first baseman Wally Joyner at bat and inspect the progress made by infielder Rick Burleson, still trying to come back from a rotator cuff injury.