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Angel Cliburn Earns Off-Again, On-Again Journey to Edmonton

April 07, 1986|GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI | Times Staff Writer

One moment, Angel reliever Stewart Cliburn is sitting at his locker explaining how his right shoulder feels fine, how he'll overcome a Sunday Freeway Series performance that saw him last just two-thirds of an inning, allow five hits and four runs.

"I'm just trying to get myself back," said the man who finished the 1985 season with a 9-3 record, 6 saves and a 2.09 ERA. "I'm not there, obviously. It will come. I'm not worried. I'm not worried at all."

The next moment, Angel management announces Cliburn has been sent to the Triple-A club in Edmonton. Cliburn then meets privately with Angel General Manager Mike Port in the trainer's room. Cliburn emerges from the meeting and says he will be placed on the team's disabled list, where he will receive care for a shoulder that wasn't so fine after all.

"They've put me on the disabled list, I'll go from there," he says. "I'm just not physically prepared."

And then , the Angels announce that, yes, Cliburn is indeed bound for Edmonton "for work purposes."

It was just part of the festivities on an afternoon that began with an entertaining 10-8 Angel victory over the Dodgers at Anaheim Stadium in front of 61,538 fans, and ended with a dose or two of management intrigue.

Doug DeCinces had two hits and drove in four runs for the Angels, rookie Wally Joyner added two more RBIs and Ruppert Jones provided the game-winning RBI with a check swing that looked like it belonged on a fairway rather than a baseball field.

"A nice little pitching wedge from about 70 yards," said Jones of his eighth-inning single off Dodger reliever Scott May.

May, who didn't make anyone forget Ron Perranoski, pitched one inning and allowed five hits and three runs. He'll get over it.

But what about Cliburn who, when he left the Angel locker room Sunday, thought he had spared himself a trip to Edmonton, a place where he spent parts of the 1984 and 1985 seasons? Before that, Cliburn had spent six years in the minors.

No wonder he didn't want to go back.

According to major league rules, a player must be unable to render services before he can be placed on the disabled list. "I submit (Cliburn) is capable of rendering services," Port said. "But it just hasn't been very good of late. There are no grounds right now where it would be proper for him to be placed on the disabled list. What I said to Stewart was, 'I hear what you're saying and I understand your emotions, but we're announcing it as an optional assignment.' "

Added Port: "After the fact, for somebody to say, 'OK, I'm hurt,' . . . I would not expect that of Stewart Cliburn. If somebody is trying to create something that isn't there then that person is traveling down the wrong road.

"I'm looking at it as more a momentary misunderstanding," Port said.

Cliburn entered Sunday's game with a 5.40 ERA after 8 innings.

"I don't know if there was an alternative," Manager Gene Mauch said. "(He needs to) get some innings and come up here again."

Cliburn was one of two players (infielder Gus Polidor was the other) optioned to Edmonton. The Angels now have reached their 24-man roster limit. That means pitchers Ken Forsch and rookie T. R. Bryden have made the team.

Bryden, a reliever, was asked to meet with Port in the trainer's room after the game.

"The last 5 or 10 people Mike Port has seen have been sent down," Bryden said.

The conversation? "He said, 'Congratulations.' That was the one that stuck. Nobody knows. My wife doesn't even know."

Bryden and Forsch will be used as set-up men for Donnie Moore who recorded his first save of the spring.

"I'm ready as I can be at this time," Moore said. "I'll take what I have. I still have some arm strength to build up."

Freeway Notes Dodger player representative Mike Scioscia said Sunday he has read the memo detailing Commissioner Peter Ueberroth's drug program. He declined to comment on its contents. "The whole issue hasn't really come to a head, yet," he said. Angel General Manager Mike Port said a delivery problem has left management and team members without copies of the memo. They'll get copies today, he said. "We will abide by whatever the Commissioner feels proper," he said. "It's another step on getting on top of this thing. In my opinion, it's exactly what we need." . . . Angel center fielder Gary Pettis strained his neck while stealing second base in the seventh inning of Sunday's game. He was taken out of the game. The injury isn't considered serious. "I've had a problem with my neck before and it went away," Pettis said. "I'm sure it will be the same way." In the same inning, Dodger shortstop Mariano Duncan bruised his left palm when pinch-runner Ruppert Jones slid back into second on a pickoff throw. Duncan was replaced by Bill Russell. Duncan, who was taken to Centinela Hospital Medical Center for precautionary X-rays, is expected to be fine for today's game against the San Diego Padres. "I don't want to have to stay like Pete (Guerrero)," he said.

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