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BASEBALL EXTRA | ANGEL REPORT : NOTES

It'll Be a Springboard for Sluggish Salmon

September 28, 1997|JOHN WEYLER

Tim Salmon's ninth-inning, fly-ball single over a drawn-in Texas outfield drove in the winning run in the Angels' 8-7 come-from-behind victory Saturday. It was Salmon's third run batted in of the night and gave him 129, the second-highest, single-season RBI total in team history behind Don Baylor's 139 in 1979. Salmon also has 33 homers.

One can only imagine the kind of numbers he might have put up if he had gotten off to a good start. So Manager Terry Collins has spent a lot of time thinking about how to keep the notoriously slow-starting Salmon--who hit .244 in April and was only up to .255 by the end of May--from swimming upstream next spring.

"I think we're going to get Tim a lot of at-bats in spring training, a lot," Collins said. "He'll hit with the major league team and then we'll send him over to the minor league camp for some more at-bats.

"If Tim ever gets off to a good start, look out. . . . He can hit 35-40 and drive in 140-145 runs."

Salmon is happy with what he's done but not satisfied. "I play to win, and it's no fun not winning," he said. "That's the ultimate thing . . . to accomplish."

*

Shigetoshi Hasegawa gave up five runs in five innings Saturday, but it wasn't the Rangers' big guns who got to him. Ivan Rodriguez, Rusty Greer, Juan Gonzalez and Lee Stevens were a combined one for 14 against the Angel starter. But Nos. 6-7-8 hitters Domingo Cedeno, Fernando Tatis and Alex Diaz were five for six with four doubles, three runs batted in and five runs.

*

Asked to name the biggest surprise of 1996, Collins thought for a long time before coming up with . . . Mike Holtz. "He pitched absolutely great all year," Collins said, "and I don't think I could've said in spring training I was looking for this guy to make 66 appearances." Holtz, 3-4 with a 3.32 earned-run average and two saves, is just as surprised. "If you would've told me 1 1/2 years ago that I would have pitched in 100 major league games by now I would've said, 'Yeah, right.' "

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