Gene Mauch sat in his office in the visitors' clubhouse of Dodger Stadium Sunday, looking like a guy about to try to bluff the table with a pair of threes. He put on his best poker face, then told reporters he'd wait until sometime this afternoon before showing his hand.
Inquiring minds wanted a hint as to which pitcher Mauch will name to fill the final opening on the staff the Angels will have when they start playing ball for real Tuesday afternoon against Seattle. Many expected an announcement on the club's final roster moves to be made after the Freeway Series finale, in which the Angels squeezed out a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers. But a club spokesman said late in the game that such an announcement will not come until before the Angels' final pregame workout today at Anaheim Stadium.
Still, reporters went to Mauch in search of clues. They found him not offering any. About the closest he would come was this: "I'll say this much. It's nice to feel that it's going to be right, whatever the decision is."
Gary Lucas and Stewart Cliburn are the pitchers most figure Mauch will have to decide between. Each pitched a scoreless inning of relief against the Dodgers Sunday, with Cliburn closing it out in the ninth to earn his first save of the spring. Each has suffered arm problems that have placed severe limits on their spring training activities. Each found out they would have to wait another day before hearing whether they would make the active roster, the disabled list, or a fate worse than either of those.
Other Angels believed to be anxiously awaiting word are catcher Jerry Narron, utility infielder Rob Wilfong and outfielder Ruppert Jones.
Mauch's evaluation of Sunday's pitching performances, and their possible repercussions? "Every pitcher who went out there looked very good to me," he said. "That's the way it's supposed to be."
Lucas' 1-2-3 seventh inning was his first appearance since March 28 and first since receiving a cortisone shot in his sore left shoulder last Monday. Before Sunday's game, Lucas' spring training consisted of four appearences totaling 8 innings. He had allowed 14 hits and 7 earned runs and complied a 7.88 earned-run average.
But the events of the last week or so, coupled with the strong outing that helped the Angels complete a sweep of one-run victories over the Dodgers, have left Lucas feeling better about his arm, and his chances of gaining a spot on the roster. After last Monday's treatment, the left-hander threw lightly on the sideline Wednesday in Palm Springs, before "cutting loose" in a practice session Friday. Then came Sunday's brief but effective inning.
"I was throwing the ball freely," Lucas said. "The inning was over pretty quick, but I felt like I was putting the ball where I wanted to.
"Most of the spring, after picking up the ball, I got an ache in my shoulder that I had never experienced before. Sometimes it came three or four days after. It was really frustrating for me. But I haven't had that in the last three days or so. That's significant, I think."
Mauch said part of the reasoning in waiting until today to make a final decision was to see how both Lucas and Cliburn feel the morning after.
"It's the following day that the problems set in," he said. "If they didn't feel good (to begin with), we wouldn't let them go out there."