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Abbott Learns Warning No Joke

February 27, 1996|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

The warnings are posted all over the Angels' Tempe Diablo Stadium clubhouse: "Attention! Look out for scorpions. Check all your gloves, shoes and gym bags." Pitcher Jim Abbott never paid much attention to the signs . . . until Monday, when he found an inch-long scorpion in his sneaker.

"It was scary," said Abbott, who came upon the poisonous arthropod as he pulled tissue out of a new shoe. "I'd been taking the warning for granted. I was lucky--if it wasn't a new shoe I just would have put it on without even looking."

Abbott hedged when asked what he did with the scorpion. "Well, I don't want to get in any trouble with the animal rights activists," he said. "There was a big circle of guys around. I'm not sure what its fate was."

Said teammate Mike Aldrete: "I believe Rex Hudler is going to eat it for lunch."

The discovery brought to mind a story about triple-A Manager Don Long, who was stung by a scorpion at the Angels' Mesa, Ariz., training facility some four years ago. An obviously frightened Long rushed to trainer Rick Smith, screaming, "Am I going to be all right? Am I going to be all right?"

Deadpanned Smith: "Uh, we'll know in about five minutes."


Manager Marcel Lachemann, criticized in 1995 for overworking some players, said he will try to give regulars a day off every 30 days or so this season whether they like it or not. Already, some don't like it.

"You may be playing well, feel real locked in, and a day off disrupts your rhythm," first baseman J.T. Snow said. "I took a day off in Milwaukee last season and went into a mini-funk. I thought, man, I'm not going to want to take another day off."

Lachemann is prepared for such reactions. "I have statistics that show some guys could use a rest," he said. "I know some guys don't want to sit down, but we're going through a full [162-game] season, and statistics show a degree of decline at the end of the year because of fatigue."

According to data compiled by an outside consultant, only 20 American League players appeared in at least 95% of their games in 1995. Four--Snow, Tim Salmon, Jim Edmonds and Tony Phillips--were Angels.

"The key is not to just rest them in August and September," Lachemann said. "If you can space days off during the course of the entire season, that seems to be beneficial."


The Angels will hold intrasquad games today and Wednesday, and they'll play an exhibition against Cal State Fullerton Thursday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Shawn Boskie is scheduled to start against the defending College World Series-champion Titans, who will use aluminum bats in the game. "We may have to walk that outfielder [Mark Kotsay] four times, but we can't ask them to do something [use wood bats] they haven't done," said Tim Mead, assistant general manager. . . . Mark Langston is scheduled to start the Angels' Cactus League opener against the Oakland Athletics Friday in Tempe. . . . The Angels' pursuit of free-agent catcher Joe Oliver ended Monday when Oliver signed a one-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds for a $500,000 base salary and incentives that could take him to $900,000, a price the Angels said they couldn't afford. Barring a trade, Jorge Fabregas probably will be the opening-day catcher. "It's an area the club wants to see strengthened," Mead said. "But it's not like a storm cloud over us. Jorge can catch and throw, and handling a pitching staff will come with baseball maturity."

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