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ANGELS REPORT

Kennedy Is Told the Plane Truth About His Swing

September 08, 2000|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

DETROIT — Adam Kennedy has the natural uppercut many left-handed hitters have, and that swing has gotten him to the big leagues at age 24, but the Angels are concerned it might prevent the second baseman from developing into the .300 hitter they think he can be.

Of Kennedy's 345 contact outs this season, 188 have been fly balls, a 54.5% flyout ratio that is 10th highest in the American League.

Most of the names on that list--Troy Glaus, Jason Giambi, Tony Batista, Frank Thomas--have hit 30 or more homers this season. Kennedy has eight home runs, and at 6 feet 1, 180 pounds, he does not project to be a big home run hitter.

"His swing is really geared toward putting the ball in the air, and that's something he'll have to temper as he continues," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "That can be the difference between hitting .260 and .300, by realizing that's not your strength."

Kennedy is batting .264. There's a simple reason the Angels would like him to hit more ground balls: most fly balls from non-power hitters are outs; a grounder can find a hole and become a hit.

Kennedy is aware of this and has been talking about it all season with batting instructor Mickey Hatcher, "but if you start altering your swing too much, you'll lose your strength," Kennedy said.

"Yes, I need to work on it, but I'm not paranoid about it. I'm not going to let it affect my approach. Is a groundout to second better than a fly out to center? I'm not going to get many infield hits because I don't get out of the box very well."

Kennedy thinks he'll become a better hitter with more strength and better pitch selection.

"If I get a pitch I want, maybe I can get it into the gap," Kennedy said. "I don't see [the fly ball outs] as a negative. I know they're not a positive, but it doesn't make me any happier to ground out."

*

To make room for Tim Belcher on the roster Thursday night, the Angels transferred Seth Etherton to the 60-day disabled list, essentially ending the promising young right-hander's season.

Shoulder tendinitis sidelined Etherton on Aug. 5, so he would not be eligible to be activated unless the Angels make the American League championship series.

"I still feel like I can pitch now, but for me to help the club I've got to be stretched out to 120 pitches, so it doesn't make sense for me to come back this month," Etherton said.

"This is probably the wisest decision, and I'm fine with it. It's time to rest up, get started on my off-season program and look forward to the future."

Belcher still must serve a three-game suspension stemming from his ejection from a June 27 game against Seattle, but the Angels are still awaiting word from the commissioner's office on when the suspension will start.

*

First baseman Mo Vaughn, slowed by the sore left ankle that hampered him throughout 1999, started at designated hitter for the second consecutive game Thursday. Vaughn's eighth-inning strikeout was his career-high 155th, moving him to within one of Reggie Jackson's franchise record of 156 set in 1982. . . . Troy Glaus' home run in the second inning was his 75th extra-base hit of the season, moving him to within two of Doug DeCinces' franchise record of 77 set in 1982. . . . Darin Erstad's third-inning sacrifice fly gave him 91 runs batted in and moved him to within seven of Nomar Garciaparra's major league record of 98 RBIs from the leadoff position set in 1997.

* Opponent--Baltimore Orioles, four games.

* Site--Edison Field.

* Tonight--7.

* TV--Channel 9 tonight, Channel 11 Saturday, Fox Sports Net Monday night.

* Radio--KLAC (570), XPRS (1090).

* Records--Angels 70-70, Orioles 63-76.

* Record vs. Orioles--5-3.

TONIGHT

ANGELS'

RAMON ORTIZ

(4-5, 6.19 ERA)

vs.

ORIOLES'

PAT RAPP

(7-10, 5.86 ERA)

* Update--An Oriole team that traded outfielder B.J. Surhoff, shortstop Mike Bordick, catcher Charles Johnson and first baseman Will Clark before the July 31 trading deadline could be without slugger Albert Belle, who was sent back to Baltimore from Minnesota on Wednesday to have his sore right hip examined. Belle is batting .215 in his last 39 games and has only four homers in his last 59 games. Opponents have stolen 26 consecutive bases against catcher Brook Fordyce, Johnson's replacement. Ortiz looks to rebound from Sunday's two-thirds of an inning, nine-run, eight-hit debacle against Chicago.

* Saturday, 1 p.m.--Scott Karl (0-1, 9.00) vs. Jose Mercedes (11-5, 4.11).

* Sunday, 5 p.m.--Matt Wise (3-3, 5.54) vs. Mike Mussina (9-13, 3.91).

* Monday, 7 p.m.--Scott Schoeneweis (7-7, 4.89) vs. Sidney Ponson (7-11, 5.26).

* Tickets--(714) 663-9000.

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