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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : ANGELS : Easley Preparing to Move to Shortstop

August 08, 1995|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

Rod Correia doubled and scored in the fourth inning, had a run-scoring single in the eighth and made two outstanding defensive plays against Texas Monday, but that probably won't earn him the starting shortstop job.

Second baseman Damion Easley, who came up as a shortstop in the Angel farm system, has been taking grounders there during batting practice every day since Gary DiSarcina suffered a season-ending thumb injury Thursday night.

As soon as his arm strength increases to the point where he's confident he can make the longer throw--probably sometime this week--Easley will probably be switched to shortstop, with triple-A infielder Jose Lind the likely replacement at second.

"I think we know what we need, and we can get it from within our system," General Manager Bill Bavasi said. "We'll still look outside [at a possible trade], but with what we have, something from outside had better be very good."

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Just when it seemed that the Angels might be on the verge of collapse, losing three of four games and looking quite ragged while doing so, they bounced back with a thoroughly dominating performance in their 9-2 victory over the Rangers.

"It tells you a lot about this team's character," said Tony Phillips, who sandwiched four strikeouts around a two-run home run in the fourth inning. "We've proved we can do this the whole first half.

"That was the first time we've struggled for four straight games, at the plate and on defense. It was the first real lull we've had as a team."

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Angel Manager Marcel Lachemann gave pitching Coach Chuck Hernandez all the credit for any improvement in pitcher Mike Harkey, who pitched a complete-game six-hitter. "He's the one who has spent time with him," Lachemann said of Hernandez.

So what big adjustments have allowed Harkey to go from an Oakland starter with a 4-6 record and 6.27 earned-run average to an Angel starter with a 3-0 mark and a 3.24 ERA?

"I just went back to what they told you in Little League--keep the ball down and throw strikes," said Harkey, who has only four complete games in his career. "That's all I've done, and I've been successful."

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Harkey used to blow fastballs by hitters in college, but he's now more of a finesse pitcher who doesn't even try to strike batters out. In fact, he had no strikeouts while throwing only 106 pitches in Monday's game.

"The fewer strikes and the lower pitch count, the more innings I pitch," Harkey said. "My thing is location. If you keep the ball down and off the fat part of the bat, you're going to win whether you throw 80 or 90 m.p.h. It's like [Atlanta's] Greg Maddux. He's not overpowering but he has great command of the strike zone and he wins."

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