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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : ANGELS : This Season, Finley Wants to Stay

March 06, 1994|BOB NIGHTENGALE

It will happen sometime this month. He will hear his name on TV. Read it in the newspapers. Listen to it being bandied about in the clubhouse.

Angel starter Chuck Finley is bracing himself for the inevitable trade rumors, now that teammate Mark Langston has a three-year, $14-million contract extension. Finley instantly becomes the prized left-handed commodity that most contenders will attempt to lure.

"I guess I'm kind of the cricket on top of the water now," said Finley, who yielded three runs in the Angels' 10-7 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Mesa, Ariz.

The Angels talked about trading Finley to the Houston Astros during the winter, and the Toronto Blue Jays remain interested, but there's a huge difference this year.

Finley doesn't want to go anywhere, and the Angels are reluctant to trade him.

"I was pretty frustrated at the end of last season," said Finley, who finished 16-14 with a 3.15 ERA. "I thought we played a little over our heads the first half, but we were just going through the motions toward the end. Those things tend to carry over and linger.

"But now, I really want to stay. I know one day will come when they'll want to sever the cord, but it would be nice to finish my career here. I want to win, and I think after what this organization has just done, there's no reason we can't win right here."

*

Angel outfielder Dwight Smith got off the team bus Saturday morning and immediately saw the sign hanging behind the left-field fence: Dwight Smith Field.

They remembered.

Smith, who played 10 years in the Chicago Cub organization before leaving in December, received a rousing welcome from his former teammates and fans.

"You guys better win it all this year," Smith said, "and when you need someone for that pennant stretch, come and get me.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm going to bust my butt for the Angels, but I'll always love the Cubs."

The Cubs, who did not tender him a contract to avoid arbitration, have told the Angels that they are interested in trading for Smith, but the Angels have rejected their advances.

*

While Smith harbored no grudge toward his former teammates, Cub reliever Chuck Crim didn't share those same sentiments toward the Angels.

Crim remains bitter that the Angels released him May 31, 1993, and his only regret Saturday was that he was unable to pitch against them.

"I'm dying to pitch against them," Crim said, "and believe me, that's going to be a great motivator.

"The Angels said I couldn't pitch, but all I know is that they were in first place by two games when I left, and they ended up 71-91. You don't think I enjoyed that?"

Crim, who was 2-2 with a 5.87 ERA in 11 games with the Angels, received several offers to pitch after being released. But he decided it was time to rehabilitate his aching right shoulder, and spent the summer strengthening it. He received a tryout with the Cubs in December, and signed as a non-roster player in January.

"These guys are giving me the benefit of the doubt," Crim said, "something the Angels wouldn't do."

*

Hilly Hathaway did little to enhance his chances of making the pitching staff by yielding two two-run homers in two innings.

But Hathaway, who last swung a bat five years ago at Bradenton, Fla., Junior College, stunned his teammates by hitting a run-scoring single up the middle in the fourth inning. He later scored.

"He's been kind of bragging to everyone that he can hit," Finley said, "but that was amazing. It was very uplifting to see an American League pitcher get a hit, an RBI and a run scored. We were waiting for him to steal."

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