CHANDLER, Ariz. — Winter took a hard toll on the Angels after the decline and fall last October. Gene Mauch woke up every morning to a knotted stomach. Reggie Jackson, Rick Burleson and Doug Corbett didn't make it to another Angel camp. Brian Downing almost quit.
But the cruelest winter, no doubt, belonged to relief pitcher Donnie Moore. Not only did Moore have to deal with the weight of having thrown the pitch that made Dave Henderson famous, he also had to cope with a sore right shoulder that hurt so much it frightened him.
"For three weeks, almost a month, my arm was sore as hell," Moore said. "I was getting kind of scared. I thought it was really damaged."
So did Dr. Lewis Yocum, the Angels' team orthopedist. Yocum listened to Moore's concerns, examined the shoulder and discussed the possibility of arthroscopic surgery.
"We were going to set up a date to get my arm cut on," Moore said. "I thought we were going to do the scope.
"But Yocum wasn't sure the scope would do any good, that it might do more damage than good. Well, if he thinks this way, if he thinks the arm might hurt more (after surgery), I said, 'Hell no.' That's my career he's cutting on."
Moore and Yocum shelved the idea of surgery and put together a therapy program consisting of weightlifting, Nautilus training and Cybex strength-conditioning. If the program failed, then surgery would be reconsidered.
"I worked out three times a week," Moore said. "And it worked. The pain and discomfort went away. So far, it's gone. I'm pain-free."
Still, Mauch was taking no chances with Moore when the Angels regrouped in Mesa in late February. Mauch set up another program--a pitching schedule emphasizing caution at every turn--and kept Moore out of the Angels' first seven spring games.
And when Moore finally made his exhibition debut Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers, it was only for three batters. Moore retired Cecil Cooper, Rob Deer and B.J. Surhoff on infield grounders, and that was it.
One perfect inning--in every sense of the term.
"It felt good," Moore reported. "I probably could've gone one more inning. I didn't throw very many pitches. But they're bringing me around slowly."
And wisely, according to Mauch.
"I told him the first day of spring training, Feb. 21--'You probably won't go on the mound in a competitive situation till the middle of March. I want to get you as strong as I can,' " Mauch said.
"Donnie Moore was perfect (Friday). We'll have him throw another inning in a couple days. The first time he's sloppy, I may start him a game, get him three innings in."
Moore described his pitching schedule as "nothing too exotic. I won't let them baby me, but I'll have a lighter schedule than the rest of the guys. We've built up to now--I want to continue on an upward plane and not go backwards."
Another spring objective for Moore is to tighten his pitching motion. His shoulder injury stemmed, in part, from his old delivery--a flailing style in which Moore throws his right shoulder back and whips his pitching arm. This spring, Moore is trying to keep the shoulder tucked in.
"I have a tendency to open up and that puts pressure on the shoulder," Moore said. "That's where all the problems start. When my shoulder hurts, it takes all the action off the ball. That's how you get hanging sliders and nothing fastballs."
And split-fingered fastballs that Dave Henderson hits over the wall and into history.
But that was the 1986 Moore model. Health is the hope for 1987--and right now, Moore has it.
"I feel like a kid on Christmas morning," he said, glancing at his shoulder. "Hey, look, I got a new arm for Christmas."