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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT | ANGELS

This Righty Acts Like a Lefty

February 18, 1996|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

The Angels aren't quite sure what they got in pitcher Jason Grimsley, acquired from the Cleveland Indians in the Brian Anderson deal Thursday, and neither is Grimsley at times.

"I may throw a pitch on the outside corner, I may throw one by your ear, you can never tell," said Grimsley, a 28-year-old right-hander who will compete for the fifth starting spot. "It's nothing personal. It just kind of happens."

Grimsley is a quirky sort, from his erratic pitches to his unpredictable behavior. He has 201 strikeouts and 189 walks in parts of six big league seasons and in 1993, as a Philadelphia Phillie, set a major league record with wild pitches in 11 consecutive games. The previous mark was nine.

"But I had to be in 11 games in the big leagues to do it, so that's a plus," said Grimsley, who has spent years shuffling between triple-A and the majors. "I've rattled a few backstops."

He is also believed to have rattled at least one ceiling vent. Remember the Albert Belle bat-corking incident of 1994? It was Grimsley who reportedly climbed through a duct in a ceiling above the locked umpire's room in Chicago's Comiskey Park, swooped in and replaced Belle's confiscated bat with a Paul Sorrento bat.

The Indians were eventually caught and had to relinquish Belle's bat, which was found to be illegal. Grimsley was reportedly fingered in the heist but to this day won't fess up.

"I might have done it, I might not have," he said with a grin. "I'll take the Fifth [Amendment] on that."

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Free-agent catcher Joe Oliver, highly coveted by the Angels this winter, is still unsigned, but General Manager Bill Bavasi said "we can't afford him right now."

Oliver, who batted .273 for Milwaukee in 1995, is looking for a contract in the $900,000 range, but the longer he goes without a job, the lower his asking price will likely be. "If it gets to about $500,000 we'd look at it," Bavasi said. "But it's still doubtful."

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Rookie catcher Todd Greene showed some power--and accuracy--during batting practice Saturday, smashing two home runs over the left-field fence on a Tempe Diablo Stadium practice field and hitting the same car twice. "He hit it once on the fly and once on a bounce," Manager Marcel Lachemann said. The damage: One cracked windshield and one shattered window.

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