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SPECIAL SECTION / BASEBALL 2001 | ANGEL REPORT

Eckstein Tough at Second

April 01, 2001|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PHOENIX — For those wondering what the Angels' opening-day second baseman is like, David Eckstein provided a synopsis during the fifth inning of Saturday's 5-0 exhibition victory over Arizona in Bank One Ballpark.

Eckstein didn't budge as a Brian Anderson pitch hit him in the side. This was nothing new. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Eckstein will take one for the team--he was hit by pitches 25 times in each of his last two seasons.

After taking second on Orlando Palmeiro's single, Eckstein, noticing Anderson wasn't holding him on well, stole third. Though the inning ended without a run, it provided a glimpse of the player who will fill in for the injured Adam Kennedy for the first week or two of the season.

"He's a gamer," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He'll run through a wall to win a game, and he does a lot of little things right."

Eckstein, claimed off waivers from Boston in August, is a tough little guy with good speed and instincts who loves getting dirty.

"I'm not the guy who is going to hit home runs," said Eckstein, who had a two-run double in the eighth Saturday. "I just show up and play hard. That's the one thing you can control in this game."

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When he was sidelined for two weeks in March because of a knee injury, Shawn Wooten resigned himself to playing at triple-A Salt Lake. That would explain his look of astonishment when Scioscia informed him he had made the team as a utility player.

"I'm driving back [to Southern California on Saturday night] and I'm going to smile the whole way home," said Wooten, a catcher who can play third and first.

Wooten couldn't wait to break the news to his father, Bob, who is suffering from lung and liver cancer. "He's been going through chemotherapy," Wooten said. "This will cheer him up."

The only other job up for grabs--the final spot in an 11-man bullpen--went to right-hander Lou Pote. The Angels optioned lefty Mark Lukasiewicz to Salt Lake and assigned right-hander Jim Bruske, catchers Jamie Burke and Jose Molina and outfielder Jeff DaVanon to minor league camp.

To make room for first baseman Wally Joyner on the 25-man roster, the Angels transferred shortstop Gary DiSarcina to the 60-day disabled list.

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Now that the Walt Disney Co. shackles have been removed, former Angel general manager Bill Bavasi, who resigned at the the end of the 1999 season, has been quite liberal with his opinions in a weekly column he writes for Sportsticker.

His most recent effort includes a scathing attack on pitcher Ken Hill, who was released last August after three injury-marred years in Anaheim but won a job as a Tampa Bay reliever this spring.

"Ken Hill in the Tampa Bay bullpen?" Bavasi writes. "Yeah, I suppose it can work if they have a 15-man staff. This can't be the same Ken Hill we had in Anaheim. He was reliable as long as we gave him about three years' rest between starts. You can tell I'm still real happy about that one."

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Ramon Ortiz looked superb in his final exhibition start Saturday, giving up three singles in six scoreless innings. Ortiz, who will start Thursday in Texas, finished the spring with a 2.84 earned-run average, striking out 30 and walking five in 31 2/3 innings. . . . Pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who is trying to regain his strength after a bout with strep throat, will start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga against UC Riverside on Tuesday.

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