The Angels are about to break camp in Arizona with at least one unhappy camper. Spike Owen, a utility infielder who asked to be traded last November, has reiterated his desire to play elsewhere if he does not win a starting job this spring.
Owen is considered an invaluable member of the team by the Angel front office because he is a front-line caliber player who can step in if Eduardo Perez falters at third base or spell Gary DiSarcina occasionally at shortstop.
Last season, Owen took over as the Angels' starting third baseman on May 26 and hit a career-high .310 in 83 games. He led the American League with a .454 average with runners in scoring position.
But it appears the Angels will give Perez every chance to grow into the third-base spot, while Owen waits on the bench.
"I understand their position, but the bottom line is I don't want to be an insurance policy," Owen, 33, said. "That's not my purpose at this stage of my career, and it's not something I'm happy with."
Four Angel pitchers--Mark Langston, Lee Smith, Bob Patterson and Mike Butcher--combined for 13 strikeouts and only one walk in 40-degree temperatures in a 7-5 victory over the San Diego Padres, in the Peoria Sports Complex.
Langston struck out seven in four innings and made only one mistake, which Ken Caminiti hit over the left-center-field fence for a two-run homer in the fourth inning.
Tony Phillips had four singles, scored two runs and drove in two to lead a 13-hit attack. Patterson, a nonroster invitee to camp, retired all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings and has pitched four scoreless innings this spring.
Butcher, who retired all three batters in the eighth, ran into trouble in the ninth, giving up four hits and three runs.
Pitchers Mark Holzemer and Erik Bennett were optioned to triple-A Vancouver, bringing the roster down to 35. Holzemer was 1-0 with a 0.00 earned-run average this spring, and Bennett was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA. . . . The team agreed to one-year contracts with their nine remaining unsigned players, including pitchers Brian Anderson, Mike Butcher, Troy Percival and Andrew Lorraine.
Butcher, who was 2-1 with one save and a 6.67 ERA for the Angels last season, signed for a base salary of $150,000, the same as last year.
Terms for Anderson, Springer and Leftwich were not available. Percival, Lorraine and Dalesandro signed for the major league minimum $109,000, and Fabregas and Turner, who are on split contracts, will make their triple-A salaries at Vancouver.