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BASEBALL EXTRA | ANGEL REPORT : NOTES

Injuries a Pain to Think About

June 29, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

The physical pain, Jim Edmonds can take. But the mental anguish of playing with torn cartilage in his left knee and an inflamed patella tendon in his right knee is becoming a heavy burden for the Angel center fielder.

"When I'm hurt I feel down, and I take that into the game," said Edmonds, who started in the outfield Saturday for the first time in four days. "Or if something goes wrong I get down, and I almost have to kick myself to snap out of it. When you're down on yourself you're pretty much beaten, and that's how I've been the last two weeks."

Edmonds has made slight adjustments in his stance in an effort to alleviate stress on his knees, but those have resulted in swings that have been so awkward Manager Terry Collins is concerned about keeping him in the lineup.

And it was obvious when Edmonds tapped a grounder to third Friday night and the Mariners turned an around-the-horn double play, his knees were bothering him. A healthy Edmonds would have beat the relay by three or four steps.

"If we see Jim doing the same things against right-handers that he did [against a left-hander] Friday night, then we might have to re-evaluate his situation," said Collins, who hopes to avoid putting Edmonds on the disabled list. "You can see he's out of whack in the box."

Edmonds, 2 for 14 in his previous four games before Saturday night, said his knee injuries have hindered his swing, making it difficult to make aggressive passes at certain pitches. He hit the ball hard in three of four at-bats Saturday night, lining out twice and grounding out. He went 0 for 5.

"I'm trying to do different things with my stance, and I can't find it right now," Edmonds said. "That's why I stink at the plate. I'm going to have to go back to my normal stance and put up with the pain."

*

Darin Erstad, suffering from a nerve problem in his left elbow, made his first start at first base in five days Saturday night, and he had strict orders from Collins: Do not make any strenuous throws.

Even if a grounder is hit to him with the bases loaded, no outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Angels leading by a run? "He may not be in the game in that situation," Collins said. "I just told him to try to avoid throwing.

"If they bunt to him, toss it to first. If he has to go to second on a pick-off play, just get rid of it quickly and don't try to do too much. I know he's going to throw, he knows he's going to throw, but I want him playing first in Colorado [Monday and Tuesday]."

Erstad, who has had the elbow problem for about three weeks, had made only two starts at first in 13 games before Saturday, but Collins has needed a crow bar to pry him out of the lineup.

"If we didn't have trainers, you'd never know he was hurt," Collins said. "Every day, he says he can play."

*

Outfielder Garret Anderson left Friday night's game in the fifth inning because of a tight left hamstring, a minor injury he attributed to playing on the Kingdome's artificial turf. Collins started Anderson at designated hitter Saturday night. . . . Angel pitcher Mark Langston, who underwent elbow surgery May 27, played catch for five minutes with no discomfort Friday and plans to begin throwing every day beginning early next week. . . . No, that's no typo or a prank in the Angel media guide. Reliever Mike James' middle name actually is Elmo, and he was not named after a furry Sesame Street character. "My Dad's name is Elmo," James said. "They called me that all through high school and college until I signed with the Dodgers. Then they started calling me Jesse."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

TODAY'S GAME

ANGELS' DENNIS SPRINGER (4-2, 5.86 ERA) vs. MARINERS' RANDY JOHNSON

(11-2, 2.33 ERA)

The Kingdome, Seattle, 1:30 p.m.

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

* Update--This is like a match race between a Yugo and a Ferrari--Springer's knuckleballs float in at about 60 mph and his fastball tops out at 80. Johnson's fastball is in the 98-mph range and has one of baseball's nastiest sliders. "He throws hard, he has a great slider and he's a little bit wild," Jim Edmonds said. "That's a tough combination. You can't really be aggressive against him. You have to look for one pitch you can hit. You can't go up there swinging at everything, but when you get a pitch to hit you've got to go after it." Since winning three in a row in May, Springer has given up 30 runs on 44 hits, including 10 home runs, in six starts.

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