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BASEBALL EXTRA | ANGEL REPORT : NOTES

Percival Even More in Control Now

June 08, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

Closer Troy Percival has shown no ill effects from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for five weeks, recording two victories and four saves and giving up no runs and three hits in seven games since his May 17 return.

But Percival is definitely not the same pitcher he was before a nerve problem knocked him out of the bullpen April 7. Instead of throwing 98-mph fastballs past hitters, Percival has been pinpointing 95-mph fastballs, mixing in more curves, and letting batters hit the ball.

"I'm using fewer pitches, not so much by choice but by necessity," Percival said. "If I'm able to hit spots, I feel a 95-mph fastball in a good location is just as effective."

Percival has no walks and seven strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings since his return, and in his last three appearances he has thrown a combined 25 pitches. While he has always had good command up or down in the strike zone, Percival said his control of the outside and inside corners has improved.

"I can turn it up a notch and get the strikeout when I need it, but if they get themselves out early in the count, great," Percival said. "If I get two strikes on a guy, I want the strikeout, but before, I tried to get the strikeout on the first pitch."

*

Shortstop Gary DiSarcina, who was hit in the back of the left hand by a pitch Friday night, sat out Saturday night's game against the Twins, but his injury does not appear to be to be as severe as Manager Terry Collins feared.

Even though X-rays were negative and DiSarcina was diagnosed to have a bruised hand, Collins was worried DiSarcina may have suffered an injury similar to Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who was sidelined for six weeks in both 1994 and '95 after suffering broken bones on the back of his left hand.

"But it's not as bad as I thought it would be," Collins said. "I plan on playing him [today]."

*

Pitcher Allen Watson's Clay County, Mo., court date for a misdemeanor assault charge, stemming from an April 18 fight in a Liberty, Mo., casino, has been pushed from this week to July.

According to police reports, Watson and teammate Chuck Finley got into an argument with Willie Pulse, 26, of Parkville, Mo., and Watson allegedly struck Pulse in the face. Pulse was charged with misdemeanor peace disturbance for allegedly provoking the incident.

Watson said Pulse and two others involved in the incident are seeking to settle the matter for $22,000. "It's a Catch-22," Watson said. "You either pay and get the charges dropped and save a bunch in lawyers' fees, or fight it and take the chance of having a police record. I have to make a decision."

*

There was fear among baseball front offices that signing bonuses for first-round draft picks would skyrocket this year, but early returns show the market hasn't increased dramatically.

Vernon Wells, picked fifth by Toronto, and J.J. Davis, picked eighth by Pittsburgh, both signed for $1.6 million, and Aaron Akin, picked fifth by Florida, signed for $1.1 million.

Jason Grilli, picked fourth by San Francisco, is believed to be close to signing for $1.8 million, so there's a good chance the Angels will be able to sign No. 3 pick Troy Glaus of UCLA for about $2 million.

ANGELS' DENNIS SPRINGER (3-2, 5.51 ERA) VS.TWINS'RICH ROBERTSON (6-3, 5.71 ERA)

Metrodome, Minneapolis, 11 a.m.

TV--Channel 9. Radio--KTZN (710).

* Update--Angel catcher Jim Leyritz did not start Saturday night because of a slightly strained muscle in the right side of his rib cage, an injury that has bothered him periodically for about 10 days, but he's expected to return today. The Twins' leadoff batter, Chuck Knoblauch, stole his 20th consecutive base without being caught in the first inning Saturday night. Springer is trying to rebound from two rocky starts, in which he gave up 11 runs on 17 hits in 13 innings. The last time he pitched in a domed stadium, at Toronto on May 23, Springer threw a complete-game seven-hitter in a 12-2 victory.

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