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A Step Back on Sunday for Springer : Baseball: Angel pitcher faces uncertain future after he is routed by Twins, who win, 9-2. Winfield hits his 450th homer.

August 02, 1993|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Jim Abbott deal looked worse Sunday afternoon than at any time since December, and it looked pretty shabby then.

Nothing official mind you, but it seemed clear that the Angels have traded Abbott to the New York Yankees for three minor leaguers.

First baseman J.T. Snow and pitcher Jerry Nielsen are toiling at triple-A Vancouver. And if Sunday's pitching performance by Russ Springer is any indication, he could be there by the end of the week.

The Minnesota Twins battered Springer for seven runs and nine hits in only 5 1/3 innings in a 9-2 rout before 22,392 at Anaheim Stadium.

The most noteworthy of the 16 hits the Twins pounded out against Springer and four relievers was a second-inning bases-empty home run by Dave Winfield, the 450th of his career. Winfield became only the fifth player in major league history with 450 homers and 2,950 hits, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Stan Musial and Carl Yastrzemski.

A fan brought Winfield the ball, which landed in the left field bleachers, and traded it for a bat, a pair of wristbands and a handful of autographed baseball cards.

"You sure that's all you want?" Winfield asked.

"This I can appreciate," he said when the deal was done. "I'm keeping the ball and the bat. This is a milestone to be proud of. Who 'woulda thunk' it all those years ago."

Down the hall, the mood in the Angels' clubhouse was more somber.

Springer, who is 1-6 with a 7.20 earned-run average, dressed and left before reporters entered the clubhouse, so it was left to Manager Buck Rodgers and catcher Ron Tingley to assess the rookie right-hander's future.

"Springer didn't show a lot of improvement," Rodgers said. "We're going to have to take a solid look at our situation. We have to see if he's going forward or backward or staying the same. It's something we'll think about on the off day (today).

"His lack of progress at this level. . . . Maybe he's not ready. But that decision won't come until Saturday. We have a few days to think about it and ponder it and everything else."

Asked what options the club would consider as replacements for Springer, Rodgers mentioned John Farrell and Mark Holzemer, both pitching at Vancouver.

"There are a lot of options," Rodgers said. "Our other option is for him to stay here."

It doesn't seem likely, based on Sunday's dismal outing.

A lack of an effective breaking pitch led to Springer's downfall, according to Rodgers and Tingley.

"There are things that have to be corrected," Rodgers said. "There is a glaring need for a slider or a better-controlled breaking pitch. He has a better curveball than slider, but it's a low percentage strike pitch. If you have a 25% strike pitch, then you just about become a one-pitch pitcher.

"I think the more he pitches out there, the more you see a need for it (a breaking pitch). He's just started throwing the slider in spring training. It's up to him to see whether he thinks he needs it. I think he needs it, after watching him."

Said Tingley: "He'd love to be able to throw that curveball for a strike, but right now that's not happening."

In 107 pitches, Springer threw four sliders and only one was a strike, Tingley said.

"We tried to work on it a little today," he said. "Maybe get ahead of the hitters, maybe get a ground ball. He needs to be able to throw it for a strike."

Winfield's home run got the Twins rolling toward a 7-1 lead by the time Rodgers replaced Springer with Ken Patterson with one out in the sixth inning.

With a homer and an eighth-inning single, Winfield increased his hit total to 2,965, passing Sam Crawford to move into 20th place on the all-time hit list.

He said he hopes to pass 3,000 by mid-September.

"Do it at home would be ideal," he said. "Playing Toronto. On TV. And going to New York (where he used to play as a Yankee) right after that."

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