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BASEBALL EXTRA | ANGEL REPORT : NOTES

Percival Eager to Get Back

May 13, 1997|CHRIS FOSTER

The Angels returned from their two-week trip to find their closer was closer to being ready.

Troy Percival, out the last month because of a nerve problem in his right shoulder, threw for 10 minutes Monday and will make a rehabilitation start tonight for Lake Elsinore. His status then will be evaluated.

That is the team's plan. Percival has done his own evaluation.

"I fully expect to be back [with the Angels] Friday," he said. "Of course, I expected to be back three weeks ago.

"It's a classified secret. . . . I'm off Wednesday and will pitch for Lake Elsinore again Thursday.

"The shoulder feels stronger than it has in a year. I have full velocity and good location."

Manager Terry Collins has heard all this.

"If you asked Troy is he could pitch tonight, he would tell you he could," Collins said.

Percival worked out in front of pitching coach Marcel Lachemann on Monday and said he had his worst day in weeks.

"Lach hadn't seen me in two weeks, so I think I was trying to impress him," Percival said. "I think he could tell by the way I was grunting."

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Pitcher Mark Gubicza, also out the last month because of a shoulder injury, threw for 10 minutes as well. He was less certain about his return.

"It's a matter of seeing what plans Lach has for me," Gubicza said. "I'll throw in the bullpen Wednesday, and if that goes well, I'll throw a simulated game on Sunday or Monday. Then we'll see about a rehab start."

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Beating both Percival and Gubicza back is starter Mark Langston, who has been out since April 28th because of inflammation in his left elbow. Langston returns to the starting rotation tonight against the Chicago White Sox.

"Five days ago, I thought we had a real problem," Collins said.

He should have studied Langston's recent history. Langston returned sooner than expected after arthroscopic knee surgery last season. In 1994, he returned a month after elbow surgery.

"They told me that Mark heals so fast that it's incredible," Collins said. "The inflammation went down the day after he played long toss, so he went out and threw. The next day he said it felt great."

Hurrying back isn't always the best scenario. Last season, Langston was on the disabled list three times, all because of problems in his right leg.

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Having so many injured pitchers--one-fourth of the staff--in town made rehabilitation easier. Percival, Gubicza and Langston worked out together while the Angels were on the road.

"If Gubby was using a seven-pound weight, then I had to up it to seven pounds too," Percival said.

The downside?

"Not many of the games were on television," Percival said. "It was tough to listen on the radio when it was my time of the game."

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