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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : Slaught Eager to Fill Role

March 04, 1996|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

Catcher Don Slaught had no problem learning the Angels' offensive signs and infield defensive plays during his first three days in camp. But Manager Marcel Lachemann's computerized daily schedule? That has been a problem.

"I have a college degree and have a hard time reading that thing," said Slaught, 37, acquired Thursday from the Cincinnati Reds. "I have to ask Greenie [rookie catcher Todd Greene] where the heck to go."

Another Slaught adjustment--wearing No. 90. With 69 players and a slew of coaches and minor league instructors in camp, it was about the only double-digit number left. "That's one thing you don't hear too much, 'Hey No. 90, can I have your autograph?' " Slaught said.

When the Reds signed free agent Joe Oliver last week, Slaught's days as a big leaguer appeared numbered. But Slaught asked the Reds to trade him and General Manager Jim Bowden obliged, sending him to the Angels, a team he has a much better chance of making, for cash.

Slaught certainly didn't hurt his chances Sunday, lining a home run to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Angels to a 5-4 victory over Oakland in a split-squad game at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

"If they like what they see, maybe I can help this team out," said Slaught, who will compete with Ron Tingley, Chris Turner and Greene for the backup catching job. "I've done everything--started, platooned, come off the bench--whatever role they want me to fill I will."

Slaught, a career .283 hitter, said the Montreal Expos and Seattle Mariners also expressed interest in him, but he picked the Angels because he thought they had the best team of the three.

"I'm impressed with the players here," Slaught said. "I was talking to [right fielder] Tim Salmon about hitting, and he knows stuff that took me 10 years to learn. You watch these guys hit, and you're very impressed."

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Salmon has played in an intrasquad game, an exhibition against Cal State Fullerton and three Cactus League games and already has four home runs, including a towering, three-run blast to left field off A's pitcher Willie Adams in the fourth inning Sunday.

"This is the first time I've been this hot this early in spring training, but I'm not going to make much of it," said Salmon, who hit .330 with 34 home runs and 105 runs batted in last season.

"For me, I'm working on getting my confidence, working the counts, trying to keep the same kind of rhythm during each pitch. I may have some home runs, but I'm not where I want to be yet."

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Angel starting pitchers were impressive Sunday, as Phil Leftwich, bidding for the fifth spot in the rotation, gave up only one hit in two scoreless innings at Tempe and Jim Abbott gave up no hits and struck out three in two innings against the A's at Phoenix. . . . The game in Phoenix was called after 11 innings with the teams tied, 4-4. Darin Erstad had two hits, including a home run, and Ricky Jordan, limited to 19 games at triple-A Vancouver because of shoulder injuries last season, had a double, triple and three RBIs. . . . Center fielder Jim Edmonds (four hits, three walks) has reached base in seven of 10 Cactus League plate appearances. . . . Reserve infielder Dick Schofield returned to his Grover, Mo., home Saturday for personal reasons. . . . Shortstop Gary DiSarcina was scratched from Sunday's game in Phoenix because of the flu.

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