PALM SPRINGS — The Angels worked out under blue skies and an intense desert sun Saturday morning, but by afternoon, the sky was dark, a steady rain was falling and they had lost their 12th game in 16 exhibition outings.
But even the Cleveland Indians' 6-4 win on the first day of spring didn't keep Manager Gene Mauch from managing a sunny smile.
Mauch never accepts losing too graciously, even in the spring. But some of the clouds that have hung ominously over his teams' bullpen recently were dispersed Saturday as relievers Donnie Moore and Stewart Cliburn turned in pain-free outings and Gary Lucas got a somewhat favorable diagnosis from Dr. Lewis Yocum.
Moore pitched to four Indians, eliciting three ground outs and a pop-up. And, more importantly, he said the tenderness in his right side had dissipated.
"There was no discomfort," he said. "No problem. I felt good. It was just a slight strain anyway, but I didn't want it to get out of hand like last year."
For Moore, even a little tenderness can be trying.
"I had the same thing last year and if I'd have taken care of it, I wouldn't have had any problems. I never had arm problems before but this," he said, pointing to his ribs under his arm, "led to this," he said, pointing to his shoulder.
"This is my livelihood, so from now on I'll take any pain in my side very seriously. Obviously, a few days rest means a big difference to me."
Cliburn, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder Nov. 18, said he felt better Saturday than he had in his previous two outings.
"I felt real good," he said, "and I thought I pitched pretty well, except for that fastball I got up in (Rick) Dempsey's wheelhouse."
Dempsey, the first batter Cliburn faced, hit a solo homer to left-center. Cliburn pitched to eight more batters and allowed one more hit.
"So far, I've had no stiffness or soreness the day after I've pitched and that's a really good sign," he said. "I just want to get my work in and get as sound as I can. It was pretty cold and wet out there, but I didn't have any trouble getting loose and the weather didn't bother me."
Yocum examined Lucas during the game Saturday and said later the left-hander's sore shoulder seems to be slightly improved.
"We changed the (anti-inflammatory) medication, but we're keeping the same exercise program," Yocum said. "Gary threw off a mound today and felt more comfortable than he has in a while."
Yocum said that Lucas cannot localize the exact area of pain and there was no specific point in his delivery motion that causes him discomfort.
"Twenty percent of the guys out here complain of some kind of spring training shoulder stiffness," Yocum said, "but it's unusual for Gary and it bothers him more because he's a pitcher."
Yocum said the Angels hope to get Lucas into a game situation within a week.
Jack Howell's two-run double in the sixth inning Saturday was his fifth hit in his last nine at-bats. Seven of his 15 hits this spring have been for extra bases. Darrell Miller, who started in right field, continued his assault on spring pitching. He went 2 for 2 and leads the team with a .500 batting average. "I'd prefer to win a few," Manager Gene Mauch said, "but if we close out the last five or six days playing real clean, I'll feel good." Kirk McCaskill, making only his second appearance of the spring because of his seven-day holdout, went 4 innings, yielding seven hits and three earned runs. McCaskill allowed a hit per inning in the first four but gave up three hits a walk and three runs in the fifth. "This outing was like the weather today," McCaskill said. "It started out great and then it rained." McCaskill admitted he was a little tired by the fifth, but said he was generally pleased with his performance.