Valenzuela sets expectations

May 22, 1991|By Knight-Ridder

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Fernando Valenzuela is a 30-year-old pitcher with a recent history of arm problems, not a savior who can pitch the California Angels to a pennant all by himself.

"I know the Angels and the people are going to expect a lot from me," Valenzuela said yesterday, "but I'm going to try to do the best I can, and that's it. I'm not going to put pressure on myself and try to do too much, because that won't help.

"But I believe I can still pitch. Now the Angels believe in me, too."

The former Los Angeles Dodger signed with the Angels on Monday and is scheduled to start for their Palm Springs club tonight in the first of three minor-league tuneups.

Valenzuela, released this spring after compiling a 13-13 record in 1990, said he harbors no bitterness toward the Dodgers.

"The only thing that was a little hard for me was when they released me," Valenzuela said. "But I know this is a business, and they do, too. But I know I can keep going and keep playing.

"The Dodgers gave me a lot of opportunities. They gave me a chance to play in the big leagues, and I have a lot of memories with them, like the Cy Young Award and the World Series. Really, I have nice memories of them. The '81 World Series, that was about the best."

Can he ever duplicate that feeling?

"Why not? The Angels have a very good team, so why not?" he said. "I feel great because I'm still here in California. The Angels have a lot of fans and also a lot of Latin fans, and it's great for me to continue to be right here in California."

After Valenzuela pitches tonight, he'll make two minor-league starts with the Angels' Midland club, and then -- if all goes well -- he'll be thrust into the Angels' starting rotation during the June 7-9 series against Detroit.

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