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Angel Notebook : Rick Burleson Makes His Return to Shortstop

March 14, 1986|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

PHOENIX — All that was missing was a moment of silence.

In the middle of the first inning here Thursday afternoon, Rick Burleson arose from the Angels dugout and trotted out toward hallowed ground. He positioned himself on the infield dirt between second and third bases, punched the palm of his glove and began to draw a bead on Tony Phillips, the Oakland A's leadoff hitter.

Rick Burleson was the Angels' shortstop again.

Nearly two years had passed since Burleson last passed this way. That date was March 21, 1984, the last time Burleson's name had been written into the Angels' lineup as a shortstop.

That afternoon, on a throw to first base, Burleson tore the rotator cuff muscle in his right shoulder for the second time in his career. Most careers don't survive one rotator cut tear. Two, and Burleson was assumed out for the count.

For the first three weeks of training camp this spring, Burleson had filled in at second base, taking it easy, turning a few double plays. Second base seemed safest for Burleson, the throw to first being the easiest in baseball.

But shortstop? Originally, such a notion seemed out of the question. There was no way Manager Gene Mauch was going to let Burleson risk that re-constructed shoulder on the strenuous throw from short.

However, upon Burleson's persistent requests, Mauch relented Thursday.

"I just feel my value to the ballclub will be a lot more if I can play both positions," Burleson said. "I feel good about the idea. I don't think it's a futile attempt. I feel strong and I'm confident about it."

Burleson was scarcely tested all afternoon. He had chances for only two assists--an underhanded flip to second baseman Bobby Grich and a throw to first on a double play.

Afterward, Burleson shrugged and said, "The real test will come when I play 8, 9, 10 days in a row at that spot."

Angel Notes

Bobby Grich hit a grand slam, triple and single to highlight a 16-hit attack as the Angels beat the A's, 10-1. Wally Joyner went 3 for 4 with a sacrifice fly, Devon White 2 for 5 and George Hendrick 2 for 4 with a double. Mike Witt, who allowed four singles and no runs in four innings, was the winning pitcher. . . . Double Hitter: After the game, Reggie Jackson sat in the trainer's room with bags of ice strapped to his elbow and his wrist. Jackson played in both A and B games Thursday and was hit by pitches in both games. But Jackson got in his cuts, too. In the B game, he drove a ball off the scoreboard beyond the right-center-field fence at Municipal Park. . . . The Angels lost the B game, 6-3. . . . Pitchers Bill Fraser and Alan Fowlkes were hit hard, each yielding three earned runs in three innings. . . . Donnie Moore (pulled muscle in rib cage) and John Candelaria (sore elbow) are not expected to pitch again until next week at the earliest and maybe not until the team leaves for Palm Springs next Friday. Moore said the injury is more serious than he initially thought. "It's a deeper pull than I figured," he said. "I better take care of it now. It's something tHat could bother me the whole year." . . . Don Sutton, Doug Corbett and D.W. Smith will pitch for the Angels in today's game against the Seattle Mariners in Tempe.

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