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Collins Rethinks Relievers' Roles

May 06, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

Troy Percival has been out a month because of a shoulder injury, and Manager Terry Collins has essentially declared the closer irreplaceable.

Collins said Monday that while Mike James will continue to receive most of the closing assignments, Mike Holtz and Rich DeLucia will also be asked to finish games, depending on the situation.

"That's not to say Mike won't pitch in the ninth," Collins said, "but we'll go game by game."

Collins said his decision had nothing to do with James nearly blowing a three-run lead in the ninth inning of a 3-2 victory over Chicago on Saturday.

"Mike was in the closer role, and there haven't been a lot of closing opportunities," Collins said. "I don't know if he was pitching enough to stay sharp."

Collins also doesn't want to save his best reliever for the ninth when he may be needed more in the seventh or eighth. That's why he went to James in the seventh with runners on first and third, two out, and the Angels leading, 4-2, on Monday night.

James struck out Eric Davis to end the inning, then added a scoreless eighth and ninth in the Angels' 7-2 victory.

"I thought Eric Davis was the biggest out we had to get," Collins said. "If we give up a three-run homer there, we may never get to James. Can he pitch again [tonight?] No, but I wasn't worried about [tonight's] game."

James said he "totally agreed" with Collins' decision.

"I'm no Troy Percival--I know that, and I never want to pretend I am," he said. "I think this will work pretty well. We have a lot of good arms in the bullpen, lefties and righties. These are win-loss situations, not save situations."


An MRI on Mark Langston's sore elbow revealed no bone chips but did show an arthritic condition that needs to be treated. Doctors have advised Langston to stop throwing for several days, and the left-hander will be re-evaluated Thursday. He will not join the team on this trip, as the Angels had hoped. . . . Darin Erstad's right hamstring felt a little stiff and sore Monday, so Collins held him out of the game. . . . Dave Hollins twisted his right ankle coming out of the batter's box while hitting into a ninth-inning double play and ran gingerly to first, but he remained in the game to play third base in the bottom of the ninth. . . . Allen Watson will start Wednesday against the Orioles on three days' rest, and Collins will take advantage of Thursday's off day to skip Dennis Springer's spot in the rotation. Shigetoshi Hasegawa will start Friday at Milwaukee. . . . Percival isn't the only reliever with a debilitating nerve problem. Baltimore's Alan Mills suffered a pinched nerve in his left shoulder in a pregame collision while shagging balls April 11 and said Monday "it could be months before it heals, if it heals."

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