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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : ANGELS : Finley Wants Belle's Homers Deducted

July 19, 1994|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Angel starter Chuck Finley wants the three home runs taken off his pitching record.

Pitcher Joe Magrane says it might be time to bring an X-ray machine to the on-deck circle.

And Jeff Parker, Angel assistant farm director, couldn't help but think back to a 1987 evening at Anaheim Stadium when he was a bat boy.

The reaction was created Monday when Cleveland outfielder Albert Belle was suspended for 10 days because he was caught using a corked bat.

"Hey, deduct those (three) homers I gave up to him," Finley said. "I should get my ERA reduced for that. I think for punishment, they should let the pitchers move up to 40 feet from home plate.

"Maybe he thought he was saving on trees. You know, one half bat, the rest cork. Maybe now you'll quit hearing everyone say the reason for all these homers is because guys are so much bigger and stronger because of all their time in the weight room.

"Right."

Magrane remembers the days when St. Louis Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog used to routinely check Howard Johnson's bat, but Herzog was convinced the Mets somehow found a way to change bats before they reached the X-ray machine.

"He knew it," Magrane said, "but we never could get proof."

Certainly, Cleveland's ill-fated attempt to switch bats revived memories for Parker.

Parker, in charge of retrieving foul balls one night in '87, remembers seeing that a lot of balls he was collecting off Minnesota Twin starter Joe Niekro were scuffed. He informed Angel Manager Gene Mauch of his findings. Mauch told him to keep collecting them.

Finally, Mauch chose the right time to challenge Niekro, and lo and behold, an emery board fell out of his pocket. Parker was immediately instructed to take a half-dozen balls and put them in the umpire's room for evidence. Well, on his way there, he was rudely confronted by a Twin player, and for a moment, Parker thought he was in for a fight.

"I was scared to death," Parker said, "but we got them there. I'm telling you, it was a night I'll never forget."

*

The Angels, in an attempt to ensure they won't have to put right fielder Tim Salmon on the 15-day disabled list because of an aggravated right hamstring, are considering using him as a designated hitter for a few games and playing Chili Davis in the outfield.

"It's a possibility," Angel Manager Marcel Lachemann said, "but only if we can keep Chili in the lineup. I'm not going to take Chili out of the lineup, believe me."

Salmon, who sat out Monday's game and hopes he can return in a few days, realizes the Angels want to be cautious. Yet, he says, there is a greater fear.

"The thing that would stink," Salmon said, "is you give it time, and then just when I'm ready, we're going to go on strike.

"From their standpoint, it can take the whole season to heal.

"I am not going to miss the whole season."

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