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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : ANGELS : It's a Grand-Slam Start for Bo Jackson

March 05, 1994|BOB NIGHTENGALE

The murmur began the moment he left the on-deck circle and had built to a crescendo by the time he reached the plate.

Designated hitter Bo Jackson stepped into the batter's box with the bases loaded Friday at Tempe, Ariz. The Angels were trailing by four runs in the eighth inning. The situation was made for a grand slam.

Jackson, whose flair for the dramatic has helped make him one of America's greatest sports heroes, watched Colorado rookie Marc Pisciotta throw three consecutive balls. There was no doubt in his mind what was coming next.

Pisciotta fired, and Jackson swung, sending the ball over the right-field fence, and the Angels into a frenzy. The score was tied and, moments later, the Angels beat the Rockies on Eduardo Perez's two-run single, 7-6.

"Bo knows dramatics," Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said. "That's why you pay some guys $5 million and some guys $500. The minute I saw the ball, I just looked at the flagpole and waited for it to land.

"We don't know if we're seeing the tail end of his first career, or the beginning of his second one, but it's going to be fun to find out."

Although the Angel coaching staff has three more weeks to decide whether Jackson will make the team, owner Gene Autry might have influenced the decision when he strolled into the clubhouse. He came only to meet Jackson.

"Who's this man that I tried to sign (in 1985)?" Autry said, extending his hand. "That was wonderful today. Hopefully, you'll be doing the same thing in six months."

Autry started to walk away, and Jackson grinned, turned around and said, "So, does this mean (I have) a job?"

Little wonder that Chili Davis, last year's designated hitter, walked into the clubhouse, looked at Jackson and said, "So tell me, where am I going to be traded to, Cleveland?"

*

Mark Langston was touched for five hits and two earned runs in two innings Friday but said he threw no breaking balls. "I learned a lesson in my second spring with Seattle," Langston said. "I threw a breaking ball on every 3-2 count. The next 10 days I had severe pain in my arm. That was it for me. . . . The Angels put pitcher Julio Valera on the 60-day disabled list. He underwent reconstructive elbow surgery last July 8 and is expected to miss the season.

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