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Angel Notebook : McCaskill Problem Resolved

March 11, 1987|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

MESA, Ariz. — By turning back the clock five days, the Angels were able to resolve their differences with pitcher Kirk McCaskill Tuesday and reclaim one 17-game winner.

After flying into Mesa for a morning meeting with Angel General Manager Mike Port, McCaskill agreed to terms for 1987, terms that will earn him a reported $232,000. McCaskill and his agent, Marvin Demoff, then returned to Southern California, McCaskill re-packed his car and drove back to Arizona, where he will resume workouts today.

In a statement issued by the Angels' publicity department, McCaskill is quoted saying: "I met with the Angels this morning, and after we both explained our positions, I can accept their latest effort. I have informed the Angels that I will sign a new contract and be in uniform (Wednesday)."

The Angels' latest effort apparently entailed giving McCaskill the same set of options he received last Thursday before his walkout. Then, Port gave McCaskill a choice--sign for $232,000 or be renewed at $220,000, which was $5,000 less than the club's previous best offer.

Calling such a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum "strong-arm tactics," McCaskill left. He walked out of camp and a day later, Port automatically renewed his contract at $220,000.

Over the weekend, Demoff said the renewal at the lower figure had widened the breach between the Angels and McCaskill.

All along, Port had maintained that the renewal was final and that the club would not negotiate with McCaskill. Monday, Port re-iterated that "we did not negotiate in a contractual sense" and was evasive about the specifics of his meeting with McCaskill.

But he indicated that in the crush of business last Thursday, with seven players still unsigned, McCaskill's negotiations may have gotten short-changed. Port said McCaskill's situation merited another look.

"Last Thursday, a lot of things were going on," Port said. "We had a lot of players to sign. We were both beset by circumstances above and beyond us. We thought that given a bit more time, things might be able to be resolved."

So, Tuesday's session apparently amounted to a re-run of Thursday, with McCaskill again having the option to accept $232,000. This time, he took it.

Without Port's self-imposed March 5 signing deadline, McCaskill's walkout may have been averted. McCaskill balked at Port's hard-line approach, and Demoff claimed Port's deadline had painted the Angels into a corner. "They were the ones that created the problem and now they're saying, 'Help us get out of it, ' " Demoff said.

Port admitted he ran out of time on Thursday. Did his own deadline backfire on him?

"Although it sometimes leads to clouded events near the end," Port said, "deadlines are good. We've had some fellas, with the same kind of situation, let negotiations go on and on, into the season. That is not the reason a baseball club exists."

McCaskill was originally fined $1,000 for sitting out on Monday, but it is believed that the fine was rescinded as part of the agreement.

Angel Manager Gene Mauch was relieved to have his starting pitching rotation back in full working condition. With McCaskill, who went 17-10 with a 3.36 earned-run average, the Angels have the pitching to contend again in the American League West.

"It was hard for me to believe some money would get in Kirk McCaskill's way of becoming as good as he can be," Mauch said. "Evidently, it, or something, got in his way for a minute.

"This wasn't exactly a tragedy. I thought he'd be back. It might have started to get to me if it had gone on a little longer. The way I look at it, Kirk missed one start."

Mauch said McCaskill could make his spring debut as early as Friday.

"He was right next door to being ready when he left," Mauch said. "He'll throw (today) and we'll see how he is Thursday. If he needs some more time, he'll throw on the side Friday and pitch on Monday."

Mauch admitted that team morale during McCaskill's absence wasn't what he would have liked.

"The only thing that bothered me were the unfunny remarks coming from the players," he said. "Nothing venomous, but comments were made during warm-ups, making light of the situation. It wasn't funny to me.

"I'm tickled to death McCaskill's back. Knowing the kid he is, he'll get a little static the first day and then, it'll all be behind him."

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