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Abbott Still on the Bubble

BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : ANGELS

March 23, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

He came to camp in great shape, with a noticeably faster fastball, but Jim Abbott has slipped into the same rut he was in during last season's 2-18 disaster.

The left-hander has a 13.50 earned-run average and 15 walks in 14 2/3 innings, and his struggles are sure to cause much consternation in the Angel front office as final cuts approach.

If the Angels are convinced Abbott can no longer pitch effectively in the major leagues, do they release him and swallow the remaining $5.6 million on his contract? Do they send him to triple-A Vancouver?

"What are we going to do? I don't know," General Manager Bill Bavasi said.

Manager Terry Collins has decided Shigetoshi Hasegawa, and not Abbott, who has given up 13 runs in his last two outings, will open the season in the starting rotation.

"I want to help the team in whatever capacity I can," Abbott said. "I'm not concerning myself with what role I'd have at this point."

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Dave Hollins sparked a seven-run eighth inning with a bunt single Saturday night, and the Angels came from behind to beat the Rockies, 8-4, and snap an eight-game losing streak.

Hollins also capped the inning with an RBI single, and Robert Eenhoorn, Fausto Cruz and Jim Edmonds each had RBI hits in the inning. Hasegawa gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings, and the Angels finally got some excellent relief work from Pep Harris (one hit in two innings), Chuck McElroy (three strikeouts in the eighth) and Mike James (scoreless ninth).

Jorge Fabregas had three hits and an RBI fielder's choice, and Jack Howell had three hits, as the Angels snapped a 12-game Cactus League losing streak to Colorado dating to March 4, 1994.

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Doctors have told second baseman Randy Velarde (sprained elbow ligament) to continue therapy for at least another 10 days before he tries throwing. . . . Right fielder Tim Salmon (shoulder tendinitis) and first baseman Chris Pritchett (sore arm) both received cortisone shots Saturday and will sit out both weekend games. First baseman Darin Erstad, who has missed two games because of a sore elbow, also will sit out today's game. . . . First baseman Eddie Murray left Saturday night's game in the second inning because he was having difficulty with his contact lenses. . . . Rockies' Manager Don Baylor missed Saturday's game to attend the funeral of an aunt in Austin, Texas. . . . Gene and Jackie Autry, majority owners of the Angels, are in Tempe for the weekend and attended Saturday night's game. Asked how he liked the Angels' new Disney-created uniforms, Gene Autry, now 89, said: "I don't know yet."

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