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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : Two Players Step Up, One Steps Back

May 30, 1996|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

The pitching staff will get a boost Friday with the return of starter Mark Langston and reliever Mark Eichhorn from the disabled list, but the Angel offense might take a hit.

Center fielder Jim Edmonds, the team's best hitter with a .307 average, 13 home runs and 32 RBIs, missed his fourth consecutive game Wednesday night and could remain on the shelf longer than the Angels expected.

"It's going to take a miracle to totally turn it around by Friday," said Edmonds, who has a strained abdomen and nagging hamstring and groin injuries. "I might have to go on the disabled list, because we need some help."

Help would likely come in the form of triple-A center fielder Orlando Palmeiro, a natural lead-off hitter who was named Pacific Coast League batter of the week Monday after hitting .486 with 10 RBIs in six games.

Edmonds said he felt as if his stomach "ripped open" while leaping for a Mo Vaughn home run in the ninth inning of Saturday night's game against Boston. He took batting practice Wednesday but can only run "at about 30%" of normal speed.

"It really hurts when I run," he said. "I'm usually a quick healer, but this [injury] is in a bad area. I might be able to play Friday at about 70%, but I don't think they would allow that."

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Chuck McElroy, acquired from Cincinnati in the Lee Smith trade and activated Wednesday, has at least one accomplishment that will endear him to Manager Marcel Lachemann. The left-handed reliever struck out Ken Griffey four times in a game.

OK, so it was double-A Eastern League game in 1988, when McElroy played for Reading (Pa.), and Griffey for Vermont. "Griffey knows how to hit now," said McElroy, who played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs before being traded to the Reds in 1993.

"It's going to be a big challenge playing in the American League, because you always hear it's a hitter's league. There are some great lefties, like Griffey and Mo Vaughn, but it's like pitching in Wrigley Field with the wind blowing out--you have to block it out, throw strikes . . . those guys are human, just like me."

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Damion Easley sits and waits and sits and waits some more. The Angels' starting second baseman in 1995 but a utility player in '96, Easley has only three at-bats and has yet to start a game since being activated May 10. But unlike Smith, Easley hasn't made any play-me-or-trade-me demands.

"I have my good days and bad days, but if I have too many bad days it becomes counter-productive," said Easley, who has appeared in seven games. "I'm doing as much as I can to stay sharp, ready. But there's no need to get upset, because I have no control over the situation."

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