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Wally Joyner has adapted quicker to major-league pitching than...

By LOU RABITO, UPI Sports Writer

NEW YORK -- Wally Joyner has adapted quicker to major-league pitching than to big-time media.

Joyner, the California Angels' rookie first baseman, has attacked American League pitching for a.313 average through Sunday with a major-league-leading 15 home runs. He is having more difficulty, though, with the media assault.

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'It is exciting, but sometimes it gets out of hand,' the 23-year-old Atlanta, native said about the media attention. 'The media doesn't realize a player has a life to lead and has to get ready to play ballgames too. That's the reason why I'm here -- to play ballgames and not to be interviewed.'

Like it or not, Joyner has been interviewed ... and interviewed and interviewed. The Yankees even set up a news conference for him last Friday afternoon so that the New York media could talk to baseball's most dynamic rookie.

'It's been handled real well,' Joyner said. 'I am pleased to give interviews or talk to anyone as long as they give me time to myself so I can get ready to play.'

Joyner's statistics show that he has been ready to play. In his three-year stint in the minor leagues, he never hit more than 12 homers in a single season -- reaching the dozen mark in 1984 with Double-A Waterbury and in 1985 with Triple-A Edmonton. Joyner is on a pace that would give him 57 homers this year. And Joyner credits preparation for his new-found power.

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'After my year in Edmonton, I knew I had a lot of work to do to even have the opportunity to play in the big leagues,' Joyner said. 'I saw that and I met it. I worked hard in Puerto Rico (winter league) and had a very successful season there. I think that opened the door wider for me to step into spring training.

'Puerto Rico has gone into spring training and spring training has overflowed into the season I'm having now.'

Joyner was drafted by the Angels in the third round of the June 1983 amateur draft after attending Brigham Young.

Joyner is a Mormon. His religion forbids smoking and the consumption of alcohol, though he said his personal beliefs are against the two vices, regardless of faith.

'I think it matures you,' Joyner said of his religion. 'It matures you as a person and I'm thankful for being born in the family I was raised in, and my parents and my strong family background. It's keeping me going right now.

Joyner has leaned on his religion to handle the early pressure this season. The rest of the pressures he would rather do without.

'I don't want the pressure of 'Wally Joyner being a home-run hitter' on me right now,' Joyner said. 'I'm not a home-run hitter. Home runs come in bunches and they've seemed to come in the likes of 15 for me right now.'

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