ANAHEIM — Kelly Gruber is scheduled to come off the disabled list on Friday, at long last joining the Angels. Perhaps he'll play third base against the Detroit Tigers. Perhaps he'll be the designated hitter.
Can he pitch? Or maybe fight?
Manager Buck Rodgers is determined to get Gruber and his bat in the lineup as quickly as possible. And the Angels finally appear willing to eat the remainder of Gary Gaetti's $5-million contract. An announcement is expected to be made before Friday, and Rodgers said that owners Gene and Jackie Autry would make the final decision.
The Toronto Blue Jays closed down their traveling hit parade Wednesday by terrorizing an Angel starter for the third consecutive game.
In the end, no one in the crowd of 24,360 at Anaheim Stadium will remember that Roberto Alomar hit two home runs off Angel starter Julio Valera. Nor that the Angels rallied in the ninth to make a game of it before falling, 7-6.
No, what stood out was a bench- and bullpen-clearing brawl following Tim Salmon's two-run home run in the sixth inning that resulted in the ejection of five players. There were no injuries in the fight, which delayed the game by 18 minutes.
Valera's wildness had a direct impact on the fight, though Angel center fielder Chad Curtis and Blue Jay third baseman Ed Sprague were the initial combatants.
Valera hit Sprague with a pitch in the third inning and grazed Alomar and threw a pitch over Joe Carter's head in the sixth. Carter struck out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Toronto starter Pat Hentgen plunked Curtis in the back with his first pitch. Salmon hit the next pitch into the left-field stands for a two-run homer that cut Toronto's lead to 5-3.
Curtis and Salmon were in the dugout for only a moment, and then Curtis jumped out and began running toward Sprague. Third base coach Ken Macha attempted to keep Sprague, 6-feet-2, 215 pounds, from reaching Curtis, 5-10, 175. It was unknown immediately whether Sprague said something to Curtis as he rounded the bases, but it was clear that Sprague was jawing at him when he reached the dugout.
The benches emptied shortly thereafter, and the bullpens soon joined the fracas. In a flash, the fight moved toward the stands along the third-base side, and it was difficult to see exactly who was punching whom and who was trying to separate players.
Television replays did not capture the first entanglement between Curtis and Sprague, but did showed Darnell Coles attempting to punch a fan in the first row of seats. He appeared to miss the fan, but connected with a police officer attempting to keep the fans off the field.
To compound matters, fans began throwing the promotional baseballs they were given as they entered the stadium onto the field.
When order was restored, Curtis, Sprague, Coles, Damion Easley and Stan Javier were ejected. Hentgen was allowed to stay in the game and he did not throw another pitch close to an Angel batter.
Alomar gave Toronto a 2-0 lead in the first inning when he slammed a 1-and-0 pitch from Valera deep into the right-field stands.
In the third, the Blue Jays had three hard-hit singles and a double off Valera, but could produce only one run. Turner Ward's single to center field scored Carter.
Valera got out of trouble by retiring Pat Borders on a force out.
In the bottom of the inning, Gary DiSarcina's double into the left-field corner scored Easley.
After the brawl, Greg Myers hit a solo homer to bring the Angels to within 5-4.
The Blue Jays added single runs in the eighth and ninth innings.
After the game, the Angels optioned reliever Scott Lewis to triple-A Vancouver and recalled Russ Springer.
Lewis was 1-2 with a 4.66 earned-run average in 12 games, including four starts. Springer, acquired in the deal that sent Jim Abbott to the New York Yankees, was 5-4 with a 4.27 ERA in 59 innings at Vancouver. He was 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in five spring training starts with the Angels. He is expected to be a relief pitcher.