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Best Wishes From Vaughn

Angels: First baseman tells teammates that he won't be back this season, but he'll be ready in 2002.

April 02, 2001|BILL SHAIKIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mo Vaughn stopped by Edison Field on Sunday, dispensing hugs and handshakes and wishing his teammates well in their season without him. Vaughn stressed he would be back at full strength for a full season in 2002, rather than returning this September to celebrate the completion of his rehabilitation.

"I'm not coming out here for a month," Vaughn said. "I've got nothing to prove to myself. I know, if I'm healthy and strong, I can play this game."

In February, after surgery on his ruptured biceps tendon in his left arm, Vaughn said doctors told him he could safely return to action in six months. That timetable could allow him to play toward the end of the season, but Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said he had been told Vaughn would miss the entire season and saw no reason to ask Vaughn to return in September when a recurrence of the injury could jeopardize his career.

"It isn't like Mo is trying to take a year off," Scioscia said.

Vaughn said this summer of rehabilitation could help lengthen his career, especially given a year away from the daily pounding endured by his legs and ankles. His contract extends through 2004.

"I made a commitment to do a job here. I like it here," he said. "The people here have been nothing but great to me. They treat me with respect. They take care of my family."

Vaughn rolled his eyes at the mention of a January article in the Boston Globe, which quoted him as saying he missed the "passion" of East Coast baseball and its fans and that he motivated himself with the thought he could "possibly come back to the East Coast." The article described Vaughn as "a slugger in exile" and was merely the latest to suggest Vaughn regretted signing with the Angels.

Vaughn, the former Red Sox hero, wondered what he should not have said. Who would deny the fans in Boston are more intense than the fans in Anaheim? Who would not muse favorably upon the thought of playing in his hometown?

"This is getting ridiculous," he said. "Maybe I need to move out of Boston."

*

The Walt Disney Co. announced plans last week to eliminate 4,000 jobs, but the Angels and Mighty Ducks are not likely to absorb cuts among coaches, scouts and other personnel working in baseball and hockey operations.

"We'll have to deal with it, but it's not going to affect what you see on the field or on the ice," Anaheim Sports President Tony Tavares said.

In January, in the wake of the AOL Time Warner merger, that company announced plans to cut 2,000 jobs and close or sell the Warner Bros. stores that employed another 3,800. The company's Atlanta Braves laid off 10 employees, including scouts and minor league coaches.

The Angels' scouts and coaches all are under contract through at least October, General Manager Bill Stoneman said. "It's not going to affect us this year at all," Stoneman said.

Notes

The Angels concluded the exhibition season--and completed a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks--with a 6-5 victory. The most encouraging sign for the Angels: Closer Troy Percival struck out the side in the ninth inning--all looking, and two on nasty curveballs that resembled those thrown in his vintage 1995 and '96 seasons. . . . Dr. Lewis Yocum examined second baseman Adam Kennedy but did not clear him for batting practice. Scioscia said Kennedy, recovering from a broken right hand, would sit out at least another week to 10 days and would require a minor league rehabilitation assignment. . . . Jarrod Washburn, regaining strength after fighting strep throat, will make two and possibly three rehabilitation starts before rejoining the rotation, Scioscia said. . . . For their home opener next week, the Angels will unveil a mural of current players along the outfield fence. Last season's mural, honoring the Angels' all-time team, remained on display Sunday. . . . With the Texas Rangers starting left-handers Kenny Rogers and Darren Oliver Tuesday and Wednesday, Scioscia said Wally Joyner probably would not make the first start of his second stint with the Angels until Thursday. The starting lineup for Tuesday's opener: Darin Erstad, center field; Benji Gil, shortstop; Tim Salmon, right field; Troy Glaus, third base; Garret Anderson, left field; Glenallen Hill, designated hitter; Scott Spiezio, first base; Bengie Molina, catcher; David Eckstein, second base; Scott Schoeneweis, pitcher.

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