Aside from Lewis, Angels glad Valenzuela is back in California

May 21, 1991|By Mike DiGiovanna | Mike DiGiovanna,Los Angeles Times

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- As the news conference announcing the signing of Fernando Valenzuela was under way upstairs last evening, California Angels pitcher Scott Lewis sat in the Anaheim Stadium clubhouse and pondered his future.

Neither Angels manager Doug Rader nor pitching coach Marcel Lachemann had told him how the acquisition would affect Lewis, the fifth starter in the rotation, but the rookie righthander did not need an explanation.

"They don't have to tell me anything," said Lewis, who is 1-4 with a 6.21 earned run average. "It means I have to get it in gear or suffer the consequences. There's nothing I can do. I just have to try to go out and win, and if the cards start falling my way, everything will be OK."

But no matter how the cards are cut, the deck appears stacked against Lewis. Valenzuela is scheduled to make his first start at Palm Springs tomorrow night, the same night Lewis will be pitching against the Chicago White Sox in Anaheim Stadium.

If the team deems Valenzuela strong enough to join the Angels' rotation soon, Lewis will likely return to Triple A Edmonton, where he spent most of the 1990 season.

With the possible exception of Lewis, player reaction to the move was favorable.

"If he can get people out like he has in the past, shoot, it's not gonna hurt us any," catcher Lance Parrish said. "I've heard good things about him, but it remains to be seen. I could sit here and say he's going to be awesome, but I don't know."

One thing that might work in Valenzuela's favor is the fact that few American League players have faced him, and few AL pitchers throw the screwball.

"He's a crafty old veteran," designated hitter Dave Parker said. "If he has a couple of good outings he could have a major impact. He'll strengthen an already strong staff."

Valenzuela, 99-58 his first seven seasons with the Dodgers and 42-48 his last four, should also enhance the Angels' performance at the gate, where attendance has sagged this season.

"He'll draw a lot of people here," leftfielder Luis Polonia said. "Hispanic people aren't too happy with the Dodgers right now, and they love baseball. I'm excited. I can't wait to see him here. I hope he comes back to where he belongs and wins like he did. He's still Fernando Valenzuela."

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