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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : ANGELS : Leiter Is Expected to Be Fifth Starter

March 29, 1994|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Mark Leiter, who was out of a job two weeks ago, has earned a spot on the Angels' opening-day roster.

The Angels will guarantee his $300,000 salary at noon today, and he is expected to become the fifth starter in the rotation, allowing the Angels to send rookie Brian Anderson to triple-A Vancouver for experience.

Leiter yielded four hits and three runs, two earned, in 4 2/3 innings in the Angels' 9-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Tempe, Ariz., Monday.

The decision to keep Leiter sets the pitching staff, but the Angels still are tinkering with the rest of their roster. They signed utility infielder Rex Hudler and hope to acquire second baseman Harold Reynolds from the San Diego Padres today for a minor league pitcher, perhaps Hilly Hathaway.

They decided they will release reliever Lee Guetterman, and either trade or release infielders Torey Lovullo and Mike Brumley.

Manager Buck Rodgers also must decide whether to keep rookie outfielder Jim Edmonds as a defensive replacement on his bench or first baseman J.T. Snow. The roster must be set by 9 p.m. Saturday.

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Rodgers, saying that everyone involved should feel like a failure, optioned pitcher Russ Springer to Vancouver.

Said Rodgers: "When I called him in I told him, 'To me, this is a failure for all of us. I feel I failed. (Pitching coach) Chuck Hernandez feels he failed. Whitey Herzog, who made the trade, feels he failed. And you should feel that you failed.' It's a shame we have to send the best arm in camp back to the minors, again."

Springer, one of three players acquired in the Jim Abbott trade of a year ago, was 0-2 with a 14.34 ERA this spring.

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Hudler says he couldn't be any happier finishing his professional career playing for the Angels.

"I can't believe how excited I am," he said. "My mother's childhood idol was Gene Autry, and she was thrilled to hear that I'm going to play for the Cowboy.

"What a way to go out."

Hudler, who batted .300 last season for the Yakult Swallows, helped lead his team to the Japanese League championship.

"I was originally planning to stay over there two or three years," Hudler, 33, said. "But I accomplished everything I wanted over there. I don't care if it's the World Series in the U.S., Russia or Japan, a world championship is a world championship."

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Pitcher Joe Magrane, who underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery in February, is scheduled to make his spring training debut Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers. He also might pitch again in the Freeway Series against the Dodgers this weekend. The Angels plan to send him to Class-A Lake Elsinore to open the season, and after two or three starts will decide whether to bring him back.

Third baseman Damion Easley played in his third consecutive game without sore shins. Easley played in only 73 games last season because of shin splints that eventually required surgery. He went four for four and scored three runs and is leading the team with a .391 batting average and eight stolen bases.

Left-handed reliever Craig Lefferts, whose guaranteed contract saved him from being released 10 days ago, has done a turnaround. He pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings and struck out three. He has earned a spot on the team, Rodgers said. . . . Left fielder Bo Jackson was given permission to skip Monday's game to shoot a commercial in Los Angeles.

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