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Rodriguez Has Strong Return to Form

September 03, 2000|LON EUBANKS

Francisco Rodriguez, an 18-year-old right-hander with a mid-90s fastball, appears to be hitting top form with Lake Elsinore after elbow problems early in the season.

Since coming off the disabled list, Rodriguez has given up only 43 hits and struck out 78 in 63 innings. He is 4-4 with a 2.86 earned-run average.

Rodriguez gave up only two hits in seven innings Wednesday in Lake Elsinore's 3-0 victory over San Bernardino and the California League's top-rated pitcher, Carlos Garcia.

Rodriguez, rated as the Angels' second-best prospect by Baseball America, was 1-1 with a 3.31 ERA and 69 strikeouts last season with Butte in the Pioneer rookie league.

Storm Manager Mario Mendoza and pitching coach Kernan Ronan have worked this season to improve his mechanics and reduce his arm problems. It appears to have helped.

At triple-A Edmonton, pitcher Scott Shields has had an up-and-down season, but Thursday he set a franchise record for strikeouts in a season with 158. The old record was 155 set by Jay Witasick in 1997.

Shields is 7-13 with a 5.42 ERA in his first season in triple A.

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