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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : Fabregas Eager to Start

February 19, 1996|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

The more Jorge Fabregas heard about the Angels' search for a front-line catcher this winter, the more he stewed.

"I was angry, no doubt about it," said the 26-year-old Fabregas, who hit .247 in 73 games in 1995. "I felt like they thought I was a backup, but I'm out to prove them wrong. That was always on my mind as I was working out, that they thought I wasn't good enough. It has made me hungrier this spring."

It seemed the Angels had their fill of Fabregas last season. Though Fabregas, a 6-foot-3, 212-pounder from Miami, shared the position with Greg Myers most of the year, the coaching staff lost confidence in Fabregas by September.

And when Myers got hurt the last weekend of the season, it was weak-hitting journeyman Andy Allanson who started the last three games, including the one-game playoff at Seattle for the American League West title.

The Angels tried to trade for San Francisco's Kirt Manwaring and made bids for free agents Joe Oliver, Benito Santiago and Mark Parent in the off-season, but the Giant deal fell through, and player funds dried up, so their No. 1 catcher in spring training is Fabregas.

"He's in a great spot for his career to take off," General Manager Bill Bavasi said. "He needs to take command behind the plate in terms of calling the game and having an understanding of the opponent so the pitchers have confidence in him. He's bright enough, he has the physical ability, he just has to do it."

Fabregas, who has only one homer in 1 1/2 major league seasons, gained 10 pounds from a winter weight-lifting program in hopes of adding power. But there is one noted loss--that chip on his shoulder. Instead of harping on front-office activity, Fabregas has channeled his energy toward catching.

"I'm going to ask Lach [Manager Marcel Lachemann] to take me under his wing, show me how to get the most out of the pitchers," Fabregas said. "I have to get to know hitters better. I'm going to keep a playbook with scouting reports on opponents this spring. I'm going to study them and get quizzed on them. I didn't do that last year."

*

Pitcher Chuck Finley, who signed a four-year, $18-million contract in January, awoke at 3 a.m. Sunday with severe spasms in his left shoulder blade and did not participate in the workout.

"It was like someone stabbed me in the back," said Finley, who moved gingerly about the clubhouse but expects to return today. "I'm gonna have to go to a frame shop. I'm a little slanted to the left."

The Angel ace wasn't the only casualty. Third baseman Eduardo Perez cut short batting practice because of a sore left shoulder, and shortstop Tim Harkrider sat out because of an inflamed left foot.

*

There seems to be a shadow of doubt surrounding bullpen hopeful Juan Agosto. His media-guide biography lists him at 37, but many believe the well-traveled left-hander from the Dominican Republic is older. "They think that because I've been around for so long," said Agosto, who has played 19 professional seasons for seven organizations. "But remember, I was 15 and a junior in high school [in 1974] when I signed my first contract."

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