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Future Looks Fine for Some, but Past Looks Even Better

Angels: Stevens hits two home runs against former team to lead Rangers to 8-5 victory.


There was nothing left for the Angels but to pack a couple bags, return home, play a few games and ponder the future. Their past, though, came to back to town as well.

Lee Stevens, once considered the Angel first baseman of the future--albeit briefly--homered twice in Texas' 8-5 victory Thursday before an announced crowd of 21,292 at Anaheim Stadium. It spoiled the start of the Angels' last series of 1997. When they break up Sunday, their paths may vary.

Certainly Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson don't need a fortune teller.

"Garret and Tim are the kind of leaders I like, quiet and reliable," shortstop Gary DiSarcina said.

They were Thursday. Anderson had three hits, giving him 186 for the season--tying him for the third most in Angel history. He had a run-scoring double in the first inning, then scored on a home run by Salmon.

It was Salmon's 33rd home run, giving him 126 runs batted in. He also struck out with two on and none out in the seventh. It's doubtful that at-bat will linger in Manager Terry Collins' mind.

On the other side of the roster are the likes of catcher Chris Turner, third baseman Jack Howell and outfielder Orlando Palmeiro, three guys who have no idea what uniform they may wear next season.

"All I want to do is prove that I can play on this level," said Turner, who was dropped from the Angels' 40-man roster earlier this season and only called up when catcher Todd Greene was injured.

"The only reason I'm here right now is because eight guys were traded and another eight guys were injured."

Turner has tried to make the most of the opportunity. He hit his first home run since 1994 Wednesday in Seattle, but went hitless in three at bats, striking out twice, Thursday.

Howell, in the last year of his contract, had a single, but struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth. He also struck out in the fifth, with Anderson being thrown out at third for an inning-ending double play.

Not the best additions to the old resume. Still, Howell has 14 home runs and 34 RBIs as a reserve.

"If a team was looking for a left-handed hitter off the bench, I hope they would be interested in me," Howell said.

The same could be said about Palmeiro, a left-handed hitting center fielder. He singled and scored in the first and drove in two runs with a second-inning triple.

He, too, doesn't know if he figures in the Angel plans.

Neither does Collins, who is starting to look at next season.

"You learned not to get too caught up in what you see in spring training and what you see in September," Collins said.

"I think, healthy, we have a team that could go to that next level. You would always like to improve, maybe go get another power hitter to put in the middle."

Collins speculated on the Angels' future before and after the game. During it, he saw a bit of the club's not-too-glorious past.

Stevens played for the Angels from 1990-92 before being traded to Montreal. He returned Thursday and hit home runs estimated at 420 feet and 416 feet, giving him 20 homers and 70 RBIs. It was his third multiple-home run game of the season and the second in the last three games.

Stevens' first came off Jason Dickson in the first inning. Rusty Greer also homered in the first off Dickson, who has given up 32 this season. Dickson (13-9) lost his fourth consecutive decision. He was 10-4 with a 3.26 earned-run average through his first 20 starts, but tapered off drastically since.

"I think the first half, Jason pitched like he can pitch," Collins said. "Then people started asking how he would do the second time around the league. Jason thought he had to be better. He started overthrowing."

Dickson gave up six runs--five earned--in the first two innings, then settled down. He left after six innings, ending his season.

His future is set. Others will have to wait.

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