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ANGEL REPORT

Vaughn Blasts Percival, Team

March 27, 2002|BILL SHAIKIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TEMPE, Ariz. — The long-simmering feud between Mo Vaughn and Troy Percival flared anew Tuesday, when the oft-injured slugger lashed out at Percival for repeatedly saying that the Angels would miss Vaughn's bat but not his leadership.

"To continue to come up with what came out of his mouth is unacceptable," Vaughn said.

In a story in Tuesday's New York Post, Vaughn ripped Percival and the Angels during a tirade that the newspaper said included 35 expletives. The Angels traded Vaughn to the Mets in December, after three injury-plagued seasons in Anaheim.

Vaughn on Percival: "Who the ... is Troy Percival? ... He hasn't done ... to lead them anywhere. I got hardware. I got playoff appearances. I got an MVP. I've been to the playoffs twice. What the hell has he done?"

Vaughn on the Angels: "Ain't none of them done a damn thing in this game, bottom line. They ain't got no flags hanging at ... Edison Field, so the hell with them."

The outburst was touched off by an article in The Times on Sunday, in which Percival said, "We may miss Mo's bat, but we won't miss his leadership. Darin Erstad is our leader."

Percival noted that several teammates had made similar comments about Vaughn this spring, "But I'm the one that gets stirred into it, probably, because there's a history there."

Hostility between Vaughn and Percival dates to 1999, when Vaughn failed to join teammates to defend Percival in a bench-clearing brawl in Cleveland. The two nearly came to blows afterward. The next day, teammates told then-manager Terry Collins they would refuse to play in the same lineup with Vaughn. Two days later, Collins quit.

Vaughn said he responded in anger after repeatedly reading similar comments from Percival--"Three, four, five times? That's ridiculous," Vaughn said.

Percival has consistently provided the same expletive-free answer to questions about Vaughn this spring.

Percival, a four-time All-Star, said he could not dispute the comments about the Angels' failings. Vaughn is a three-time All-Star.

"You know what? You take out all the expletives, and how many times have I been to the playoffs? How many times have I won? It's not an individual game. I don't play it that way," Percival said. "That's fine.... I'm not going to sit and get into a war of words with somebody who's not on my team. The guys in my locker room know how I play the game and how I respect it."

Said pitcher Jarrod Washburn of Percival, "He's a great leader of the pitching staff and of the team as a whole."

In the Post article, Vaughn said the Angels had "destroyed my arm," an allegation he retracted Tuesday. Vaughn played the final weeks of the 2000 season with an undetected torn biceps tendon, an injury that required surgery and was responsible for his missing the 2001 season. Vaughn acknowledged last year that he'd felt pain in the elbow but had not complained about it until after the 2000 season.

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Paul Pressler, the Disney executive who oversees the Angels and Mighty Ducks, said that the company is not keeping the presidency of its sports division vacant because one or both teams might soon be sold. Pressler has yet to embark on a search for a president to replace Tony Tavares, who resigned as president of Anaheim Sports on Jan. 4.

"I'm very sincere when I say that we're operating these teams as if we were going to operate them forever," Pressler said. "I'm not making any decisions based on what might happen with a sale."

Alabama businessman Donald Watkins met with Disney executives Friday to discuss his interest in buying the Angels. A group led by former Madison Square Garden president Dave Checketts is believed to be interested in buying both teams. No talks are believed to have advanced beyond preliminary stages.

Pressler appointed Kevin Uhlich the Angels' senior vice president of business operations and plans to hire someone to fill the same position with the Ducks. Pressler, chairman of Disney's parks and resorts division, said last month he would fill Tavares' position but now is uncertain.

"I think I can do the job from where I sit, with two business heads in place," Pressler said. "Once I get them in place, I'll determine whether that's a good decision or not."

*

The Angels put left-handed reliever Dennis Cook on the disabled list. Cook, who suffered bruised ribs in the bench-clearing brawls with the San Diego Padres on March 9, will be eligible for activation April 5, when the Angels play their fourth game of the season.... Reliever Lou Pote, counted on as a bridge from the starters to Percival, gave up three home runs in 12/3 innings in the Angels' 10-6 exhibition loss to the Seattle Mariners. Pote has a 13.09 earned-run average this spring.

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