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Another second-year starter, 22-year-old shortstop Dick Schofield, has given the Angels such steady defense that they have abided his slow development at the plate. The son of the former major league infielder of the same name, Schofield had a tendency last year to hold his hands too high and wrap the bat too far behind his head. He hit .193 and struck out 79 times. This season he has ironed out those flaws, though a recent slump dragged him down to .215.
"I still have a lot to learn," Schofield says, but his polished glovework—the product of fielding "a million grounders" from his father as a youngster, according to his dad's count—made him the league's top-rated defensive shortstop last season. In a 6-1 loss to Boston last week, Schofield made a spectacular diving stab of an up-the-middle grounder and flipped the ball backhanded to second for a forceout. "He won't be an Ozzie Smith because he doesn't have Ozzie's speed, but he's just short of that," says Grich.
In contrast to the loose, ever-smiling Pettis, Schofield is reserved. Some Angels, however, have seen him gradually coming out of his shell. "He even told a joke this morning," said Grich one day last week. "I couldn't believe it. I don't even remember if it was funny—we all laughed anyway so he wouldn't be afraid to tell another."
Schofield has three teammates who can appreciate the pressures he faces as the son of a former athlete: Boone, whose father, Ray, was a major league infielder; rookie relief pitcher Urbano Lugo, whose dad, also named Urbano, was one of the most famous Venezuelan League pitchers ever; and righthanded starter Kirk McCaskill, another rookie. McCaskill, from the University of Vermont, signed a four-year, $350,000 contract with Winnipeg in 1983 as the first collegiate hockey player picked in the 1981 NHL draft. His father, Ted, played pro hockey for 18 years. Kirk opted for baseball after spending the better part of his one season in hockey riding a minor league bench.
Given this blend of ages and abilities—and a succession of injuries that hit DeCinces (back spasms) and Carew (foot bruise) and disabled pitchers Geoff Zahn (shoulder tendinitis), Ken Forsch (strained elbow), Frank LaCorte (calcium deposits in the shoulder) and Luis Sanchez (neck sprain)—Mauch, now in his 24th year of big league managing, has pulled all the right strings so far. His steady hand has brought along the young players, and his long acknowledged baseball acumen has held the respect of the veterans. "I don't know if I would use the word 'defer' but...aw, an old goat like me, they defer to me a little," says Mauch gruffly.
Mauch resigned as California manager after the '82 season, partly to attend to his ailing wife, Nina Lee, who died of cancer in 1983. An intense worker, always scrutinizing and analyzing the baseball world around him, he found his separation from the game unsettling. He was suddenly an outsider. "I had never let myself become too friendly with the people I played against, and I started to regret that," says Mauch. "But you know, how can you be all friendly with someone and then go out and try to beat their brains out?" Considered the best manager never to win a pennant, Mauch hungered for another shot. "I had a formula that worked for so long—all baseball and maybe squeeze in a little fun," he says. "When I tried it the other way around, it just didn't work for me."
Mauch jumped at the Angels job when John McNamara left for the Red Sox last fall. He returned brimming with fresh ideas. One was to return Jackson to right. "I never considered Reggie a defensive liability in his great years," says Mauch. "He was an all-around ballplayer. All I knew was that after '81 the Yankees had figured he was through, by Reggie standards, and that he had come out and played rightfield for me the next year and hit 39 homers and driven in 101 runs. Then he'd had two off years as a DH. It seemed clear that he needed to be back in the field."
"Gene is amazing," says Lachemann. "What he does is so commonsensical...but nobody else would think of it. You're always learning from him."
The Angels turned in a couple of typically Mauch-heroic performances in Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday nights. On Friday, Jackson launched a three-run homer into the leftfield seats to help stake starter Ron Romanick to a 4-0 lead, and Boone squeeze-bunted Grich home for the winning run in a 5-4 win. In a 6-5 victory on Saturday, Jackson belted another opposite-field, two-run shot, and Juan Beniquez' single in the ninth inning brought home the game winner following a single and a sacrifice.
On Sunday, a two-run homer by Jones lifted California to a 3-0 lead, but Milwaukee came back to rake McCaskill and three relievers for 13 hits, and the Brewers went on to win 7-4. Jackson put on a good show nevertheless, rapping two hits and hustling like a rookie, especially when he barreled into Milwaukee second baseman Jim Gantner in a failed effort to break up a double play. Mauch, too, went down fighting, getting ejected for some heated arguing with the umpire.