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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : ANGELS

Dickson Looks Like a Starter

March 15, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

Rookie Jason Dickson took another huge step toward securing a spot in the rotation, giving up two runs on five hits in five innings of the Angels' 12-5 exhibition loss to the Seattle Mariners Friday.

Facing a lineup of Seattle regulars, Dickson retired the side in order three times and struck out Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner looking in the second. His only blemish was the third, when he gave up four hits, including Ken Griffey's RBI single on an 0-2 pitch.

Dickson has been the Angels' most effective and consistent starter this spring, with a 3.21 earned-run average in four games.

"If he's not in our rotation," Manager Terry Collins said, "then we must have five other good ones. Jason has really thrown the ball well. He's changing speeds, throwing strikes, and he has an idea what he's doing. He deserves to be in the rotation."

Dickson isn't taking anything for granted. "Until I make the team I can't bank on anything," the right-hander said. "Once you get too relaxed, you get yourself in trouble."

There was plenty of trouble after Dickson departed. Todd Van Poppel and Darrell May each gave up three runs, May giving up consecutive homers to Alex Rodriguez, Griffey and Martinez in a six-run seventh. Even set-up man Mike James had a rocky ninth, giving up four runs on five hits.

Opponents have scored in double figures in seven of 16 games, and Collins has been unimpressed with those competing for middle relief spots, pitchers such as May, Van Poppel, Greg Gohr, Pep Harris and Pete Janicki.

"I'm tired of watching sixes go up on the board," Collins said. "It's time for someone to step up and earn the job. I'm not so concerned with our starting pitching. I am concerned with having starters who can only go five innings early in the season and needing someone to get us to the eighth."

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The prognosis for closer Troy Percival is good--he said his arm feels great, he's expected to resume throwing Monday and should return to the mound by Wednesday--but the right-hander might be kind of grumpy for a while.

Percival has been told to give up two of his daily staples, coffee and chewing tobacco, because they might have contributed to his health problems.

"They constrict the blood vessels and cause your veins to shrink up," said Percival, who drinks about seven cups of coffee a day during the season and is usually wired by the time he takes the mound in the ninth.

"Giving up chewing tobacco will be no problem. That's just something I do. But coffee is something I need. I'll just have to start drinking decaf."

Percival experienced severe back spasms and numbness in his arm Wednesday, and an examination Thursday by Dr. Lewis Yocum ruled out blood clots or an aneurysm. But Percival was found to have some blood-flow problems in his arm and is being treated.

"I got the feeling back in my hand after one day, and once I get the feeling back in my arm I should get my control back," Percival said. "But I'll definitely be opening the season, that's for sure."

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Jorge Fabregas had three hits Friday and Tim Salmon had a three-run double in the fifth inning. . . . The Angels optioned pitchers Geoff Edsell, Mike Freehill, Fausto Macey and Jeff Schmidt to triple-A Vancouver, and pitcher Matt Perisho and Bret Hemphill to double-A Midland (Texas). . . . Allen Watson will start against the Colorado Rockies today in Tucson.

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