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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 an RBI single in the eighth and made two outstanding defensive plays 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 has increased to the point he's confident he can make the longer throw--probably sometime this week--Easley likely will switch 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 you thought the Angels were 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 Monday's 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 homer 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. But it's not like we've played like crap the last two months."

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

So what big adjustments have enabled 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 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 out batters. In fact, he had no strikeouts while throwing only 106 pitches in Monday's game.

"The fewer strikes and the lower the 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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J.T. Snow's three-run homer in the first inning was his first home run since July 17. . . . Catcher Greg Myers had two doubles Monday, his second coming within inches of clearing the right-field fence in the eighth inning. . . . Chili Davis extended his hitting streak to 12 with a single in the third inning. . . . The Rangers are now 8-17 since the All-Star break but still remain in the hunt for a wild-card playoff berth.

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