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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : ANGELS : He Wouldn't Have Changed a Thing

April 17, 1993|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Oriole pitcher Fernando Valenzuela rolled his eyes toward the heavens Friday, as if he still were on the mound for the Dodgers, and pondered the question.

There were far too many games, he now realizes, in which he threw too many pitches. And there were too many years, he says, in which he threw too many innings.

Now, nearly three years since his last major league victory, and on the eve of returning to the minors, Valenzuela was asked if he would have done anything differently during the Fernandomania era.

"You know, if I had to do it all over," Valenzuela said, "I'd do everything exactly the same way. The game is nine innings, and I wanted to go nine innings every time. Why go six or seven innings when the game is still going on.

"Do you know what would have happened if I had come out of all those games early?

"I'd have only 80 wins right now."

Instead, Valenzuela has 141 victories, but he has pitched only three major league games since the Dodgers released him in March of 1991. And although he is astonished by the return of former teammate Orel Hershiser, he said he doesn't second-guess himself for not undergoing shoulder surgery after he 1988 season.

"If I had it, I don't think I could have pitched again," said Valenzuela, who pitched more innings than any major league pitcher from 1981-1986. "People thought I hurt my arm because of the screwball, but I just pitched too many innings."

"It's been a long process for me, but now I'm back."

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Angel Manager Buck Rodgers on visiting Baltimore for the first time since he managed the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982: "The whole harbor area looks good. The last time I was here, you could have dropped a bomb on it, and it would have been an improvement.

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Whitey Herzog, Angel vice president, said the club is searching for a third catcher who can play other positions and another reliever to help fortify the bullpen. However, the Angels have no interest in left-handed reliever Ken Dayley or catcher Mike LaValliere, each of whom has been recently released. . . . Rodgers on starter Russ Springer, who continues to struggle at triple-A Vancouver: "We won't bring up until he's ready. We'd be doing him, and us, a disservice." Springer has an 8.38 earned-run average in two starts. . . . Mark McLemore of the Orioles started the first game of his professional career in the outfield Friday when he played right field. McLemore, a former Angel, has played almost exclusively at second base. . . . Designated hitter Harold Baines sat out the game and probably won't return before Sunday after taking a cortisone shot for his tender left knee.

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