NEW YORK — After the storm, after the mob of microphones had ebbed and flowed away from Reggie Jackson Monday night, Doug DeCinces leaned on a bat next to the batting cage and considered the words of his teammate, who had just taken his case, the case of the missing contract, to his old friends in the New York media.
"I can see what he has to say, I can see where he's coming from," said DeCinces. Like Jackson, DeCinces is in the final year of his contract. Like Jackson, DeCinces doesn't know where he'll be playing next year.
They share the same problem, if not the same solution.
"That's Reggie's situation," DeCinces said. "Everybody deals with it his own way. When all is said and done, I'll have done it my way."
And then DeCinces went out and did it his way, hitting two home runs off Joe Niekro and helping the Angels to a 5-3 victory over the New York Yankees in front of 30,941 fans at Yankee Stadium.
Different strokes for different folks.
With John Candelaria (7-2) getting five more innings out of his tender left elbow and Donnie Moore getting another save out of his sore right shoulder, the Angels won their second straight, keeping their first-place lead over Texas in the American League West at three games.
The home runs were the 19th and 20th on the season for DeCinces. He was credited with two runs-batted in, raising his season's total to 76.
Much of this production has come in the aftermath of DeCinces' private air-clearing session with General Manager Mike Port in late July. Thus far in the month of August, DeCinces is hitting .342 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs.
"Things started to come together once I expressed myself to the ballclub," DeCinces said. "I was getting off my chest how I felt. I didn't want to be labeled and pushed off to the side."
DeCinces had struggled through the early months with his bat and his health. He separated his shoulder, hurt a knee. His chronic back problems flared up. His batting average plunged into the low .200s, and he stranded baserunners right and left.
Eventually, the Angels recalled Jack Howell from Edmonton to split time at third base with DeCinces--and maybe push him a bit.
"I don't like the feeling of having someone hold something over my head," DeCinces said. "I don't like to have someone above me, pulling strings. They were dictating my future.
"I had to get rid of it all and play my game and not concern myself with outside pressures. I'm gonna play next year, here or elsewhere. That's the way it was put to me and that's the way I'm looking at it. With my separated shoulder, I was something like 5 for 50. But since I've come back, the numbers I've been putting up have been positive."
DeCinces' first home run Monday gave the Angels a 1-0 lead in the second inning, which quickly became 2-0 on the first of Bob Boone's two RBI singles. The score was tied, 2-2, in the fourth inning when DeCinces homered off Niekro (8-9) again.
It was DeCinces' second two-home run game in August and the 17th of his career.
"When Doug DeCinces is at the top of his game, very few third basemen play like him," said Manager Gene Mauch, who has suspended the third-base platoon of late.
Except don't call it a "platoon" when you're talking to Mauch.
"That's what you call it," he said. "There was never any platoon. All I know is that it's the 25th of August and Doug DeCinces is still as strong as a bull. If what we did earlier helped him, fine."
DeCinces begs to differ here on a couple of points.
"In the middle of the season, I was starting to be platooned," he insisted. "If it wasn't a platoon, what was it then?"
And he doesn't agree with the notion that he needed the rest or the possible incentive provided by Howell's presence.
"I'm not going to comment on that and I don't have to," he said. "That's the past. I'm dealing with the future."
DeCinces' home runs provided the difference for Candelaria, who had a 4-3 lead when he opened the bottom of the sixth inning by striking out left-hander Dan Pasqua.
Then, Mauch decided to give Candelaria's arm the rest of the night off.
That revved up the Angels' bullpen shuttle. First, Vern Ruhle, who worked two hitless innings. Then Gary Lucas, who got a double-play ball to get out of the eighth inning.
And then Moore, who retired the Yankees in order--striking out pinch-hitters Claudell Washington and Mike Pagliarulo--before receiving a cortisone injection from team orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum.
"A nice ballgame," Mauch said. Especially for DeCinces, who continues to exhibit his own brand of contract negotiations.
"I'm gonna play someplace," he said. "If things don't work out here, I'm sure there are a lot of places I can go.
"I'd like to stay, but business is business. Don Aase wanted to stay, too, didn't he?"