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Angels to Pursue Free-Agent Gross : Baseball: Three other teams also vying for former Dodger pitcher.

November 01, 1994|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — The Dodgers think they can do just fine without Kevin Gross, but the Angels consider the right-handed starter a possible key to their 1995 season.

The Angels have decided to strongly pursue Gross in the free-agent market, joining the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers among teams vying for his services.

Gross, who led the Dodgers with 124 strikeouts and was on pace to pitch at least 200 innings for the eighth time in the last 10 years, would become the Angels' top right-handed starter. He has won 40 games during the last four years, and was 9-7 with a 3.60 earned-run average this season.

An Angels' right-hander has not won 10 games in a season since 1991, when Kirk McCaskill went 10-19.

Gross, who was paid $2.7 million last season, is an attractive free agent to several clubs because teams will not be required to provide compensation to the Dodgers. The Dodgers refused to offer Gross arbitration rights, enabling a club to sign the Los Angeles native without giving up a draft choice.

The Dodgers informed Gross, 33, they might be willing to talk with him later, but Dodger General Manager Fred Claire said Monday they have no current plans to present a contract offer.

Angel General Manager Bill Bavasi, who has had several discussions with Gross' agent, Tony Attanasio, also has expressed interest in free-agent Mickey Tettleton of the Detroit Tigers. Tettleton, who has averaged 28 homers and 93 runs batted in during the last four years, earned $1.5 million last season. He underwent surgery Sept. 22 to remove a bone spur and growth in his left heel.

If the Angels are successful in acquiring Tettleton, 34, they would play him at first base, and occasionally in the outfield and at catcher. His acquisition probably would precipitate a trade of first baseman J.T. Snow.

The Angels also have expressed interest in right-handed starter Billy Swift, formerly of the San Francisco Giants. But Swift is coveted by many teams, and is expected to command at least a four-year contract worth more than $4 million a year.

"We're going after people," Angel General Manager Bill Bavasi said. "We're going to be very aggressive. We may not have the money to compete with the big boys, but we're going to make an effort."

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