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Hopping Bad: Angels Lose Game, Gruber : Baseball: The third baseman will have neck surgery. Sanderson suffers his eighth consecutive defeat as the Red Sox win, 8-6.

July 20, 1993|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BOSTON — The Angels, whose second half continued to unravel with another defeat, 8-6 to the Boston Red Sox, have lost two-time All-Star third baseman Kelly Gruber for the season.

Gruber will undergo neck surgery within a few weeks that might endanger his baseball career, according to his mother, Gloria Gruber.

Gruber, 31, has bulging disks in his neck, and was advised by doctors that he would be risking paralysis if he continued to play baseball, Gloria Gruber said.

"The doctors told him they don't want him playing," Gloria Gruber said by phone from Austin, Tex. "He holds a lot in, but he's really upset right now.

"I know he wants to play baseball again some day, but they told him if he keeps playing baseball without surgery, he could be paralyzed."

Gruber, whom the Angels were hoping would provide a second-half boost to their offense, played only 18 games for the Angels since being acquired Dec. 8 from the Toronto Blue Jays. He batted .277 with three homers and nine runs batted in before returning to the disabled list July 4.

"I really don't know what's going on with him," Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said. "I was told he was back in Texas, but really, that's all I know."

Angel officials also said they were unaware a decision on the surgery had been made. Gruber, who is at home in Austin, was unavailable for comment Monday night.

Gruber was on the disabled list from the start of the season until June 4 because of a torn rotator cuff suffered while he was with Toronto. The Angels objected to paying $2.3 million of Gruber's $4-million salary as a result, but their grievance was rejected by American League President Bobby Brown. It is unknown whether the Angels will petition Brown again on the basic that Gruber suffered the initial neck trouble while playing for the Blue Jays.

Meanwhile, the fate of Angel starter Scott Sanderson remains the same. He lost his career-high eighth consecutive game Monday night, the longest such streak in the league.

"I don't know anyone in the game who's more frustrated than me," said Sanderson (7-10), forgetting momentarily about the New York Mets' Anthony Young. "I'm getting tired of it. As far as I'm concerned, it's got to end. I feel too strong physically for this to continue."

Sanderson hasn't won since May 27.

Sanderson, starting on three days of rest because Hilly Hathaway has flu, lasted only 5 2/3 innings. He gave up 13 hits and seven runs--six earned--watching in disbelief as he came away a loser once again.

He was spotted a 2-0 lead after the second inning, a rarity in this streak, but it all came undone in the fourth inning. The Red Sox scored eight runs from the fourth through the sixth inning, seven scoring with two out.

The Red Sox's four-run sixth inning was particularly agonizing because two of the runs came on bad-hop singles, hitting the same spot in the hole between shortstop and third.

"It was crazy," said Damion Easley, who has replaced Gruber at third. "The ball hit the exact same spot both times, and there was no pebble or anything. The spot was clean.

"They were routine balls that turned into an adventure."

Sanderson, who is 0-8 with a 6.07 ERA in his 10 winless starts during the streak, watched it all without showing any visible emotions.

"I'm as emotional as the next guy," Sanderson said, "but there's a time and place to vent that frustration.

"We all have different ways to vent those emotions, but because I don't come in here and tear the clubhouse into a parking lot, it doesn't mean it hurts any less."

Said second baseman Torey Lovullo, who made one error: "It's amazing how he's handled it. Most guys would be going crazy, but he's got such a good demeanor about it. I'm sure it's got to be killing him, but he doesn't show it."

If nothing else, the Angels were able to end their three-year home run drought at Fenway Park. Catcher Greg Myers homered in the sixth inning over the Green Monster, the first opposite-field homer of his career and the Angels' first homer at Fenway since April 26, 1990, spanning 165 innings and 594 at-bats. Right fielder Tim Salmon added another in the eighth inning, his 20th of the year.

"We're just not a winning club right now," Angel infielder Rene Gonzales said. "Winning clubs don't have bad breaks. We need a spark, we need a lift from somebody."

The role, the Angels once envisioned, that Gruber would fill.

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