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A Hard Snow Falls on Indians : Angels: Rookie continues torrid April, hits three-run homer to help beat Indians.

April 21, 1993|SCOTT MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — The baseball is anything but Snow white by the time J.T. gets done with it. It is dirty, it is scuffed, it is grass-stained and, increasingly, it is smeared with orange or blue paint.

That happens after it slams against an outfield seat, which rookie J.T. Snow did for the third time this season in the Angels' 7-2 victory over Cleveland Tuesday night.

It was a three-run blast off Kevin Wickander in the seventh, turning a tenuous 3-1 lead into another romper room of an evening for the Angels' kids.

"We're not intimidated or in awe," said Snow, who is almost sheepish these days during almost daily explanations of how he is wreaking havoc on American League pitchers. "Shoot, we're just going out and having a good time.

"We probably don't know what we're doing or how we're doing it. Every game I've played this year, I've had a lot of adrenaline. I've been very excited."

Snow bumped his batting average up to .359 and increased his RBI total to a team-leading 12. His slugging percentage stands at a smoking .667, and the switch-hitter is even banging the ball from the right side of the plate--supposedly his weakest side.

His seventh-inning homer came while hitting right-handed. At triple-A Columbus last season, he hit 15 homers--only two right-handed.

"I just made a little adjustment," he said. "I lowered my hands a little bit. Doing it last year I had some success, and it finally dawned on me last week.

"I'm just trying to do some of the things I do left-handed. Time the pitcher, things like that."

It figures he would have some success at that, because Snow has shown a flair for timing this season. He homered on opening day against Milwaukee in front of more than 30 family and friends. And with the spotlight on him--he is, after all, the only one of the three players acquired in the Jim Abbott trade to make the Angels' opening day roster--he has put together a torrid April.

And when he took Wickander deep Tuesday, his father, former Ram receiver Jack, happened to be chatting on the air in the ESPN broadcast booth.

What his dad and the rest of Anaheim Stadium saw when J.T. settled into the batter's box were runners on first and third. Then Chad Curtis stole second, and Snow ran the count to 1-and-2.

"A home run was the last thing in the world (Snow) had on his mind," Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said. "With two strikes, he's like a goalie up there. He's just trying to protect the plate."

Said Snow: "Hit a fly ball, that's all I was trying to do. I was talking to Chili (Davis, the on-deck hitter at the time) and I said, 'I've got to get at least one of these guys in.' "

Instead, he drove home both. And suddenly, the Angels are only half-a-game behind first-place Texas in the AL West and are as excited as a school kid who knows he aced a test.

"We're doing our homework before games," Snow said. "Like today, we were in here talking about (Cleveland starter Jose) Mesa, looking at film. . . . I'm asking Chili, 'You've faced this guy before, what's he like?'

"We're using our video room. . . . We've done it all season long."

He has yet to taste a deep slump or the dog days of August. But two weeks into his first major league season, J.T. Snow certainly knows what a roll feels like.

"I think," he said, "I should probably buy some lottery tickets or something."

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