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BASEBALL EXTRA / INTERLEAGUE PLAY | GAME REPORT

Notes

June 18, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

Every one of Hideo Nomo's starts is a big deal in Japan, but tonight's game against the Angels was one decision away from becoming gargantuan.

Angel Manager Terry Collins said he gave serious consideration to starting Japanese right-hander Shigetoshi Hasegawa against Nomo before deciding on knuckleballer Dennis Springer.

"It would have been big, big history," said Kozo Abe, who has followed the Angels for the Fuji Evening News. "Two Japanese pitchers on the same major league mound . . . every Japanese newspaper and radio and television stations would have been here. It would have been huge."

Collins said he did not receive any memos from the Angel or Dodger marketing departments suggesting the move. There were no messages on his answering machine from Walt Disney Co. executives.

"It was my idea," Collins said. "I wasn't sure how Matt [Perisho, a 21- year-old left-hander] would match up against the Dodgers and I considered starting Shige, but I didn't want that to take precedence over the game. Plus, I didn't want to skip Springer's spot in the rotation."

Hasegawa, 1-4 with a 4.77 ERA, hasn't started since May 14, when he got a no-decision in a 6-5 victory over Baltimore.

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With first baseman Darin Erstad unable to throw because of an elbow injury, the Angels moved catcher Jim Leyritz to first and started Chad Kreuter behind the plate.

Center fielder Jim Edmonds started at first Saturday and Sunday against San Francisco, but Collins said playing the infield was even more taxing for Edmonds, who is suffering from torn cartilage in his left knee.

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Mark Langston, who underwent surgery May 27 to remove inflamed and damaged tissue from his elbow, had set a goal to return to the Angel rotation by the All-Star break, but he had to amend those plans after a setback Friday.

The left-hander, throwing for the third time last week, felt pain in his left elbow and had to stop the workout. He has been told not to throw for several days, and it now appears that the original forecast--that he'd be sidelined six to eight weeks--is accurate.

"This is a lot more detailed than I thought," said Langston, who has a history of returning from injuries before doctors' projections. "I've got to stop throwing for a while and build my strength up. I was in enough pain to realize that I have to take my time with this."

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It has been a rough week for Angel reliever Rich DeLucia. He came down with a sore elbow over the weekend, and Tuesday he was unable to make it to Dodger Stadium because of flu. DeLucia, is 4-2 with a 2.17 ERA in 21 games, is not expected to return for tonight's game.

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