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ANGELS REPORT

Gil Makes Most of Chance

April 13, 2001|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

Angel shortstop Bengi Gil has an idea how the rumors started. Whether they were true or not . . .

After his rookie flameout with the Texas Rangers, who handed him their shortstop job in 1995 and cringed as he hit .219, Gil spent most of 1996 in triple-A. He hit .224 for the Rangers in 1997 and was then traded to the Chicago White Sox.

Gil played triple-A for the White Sox in 1998 and was neck and neck with Mike Caruso for the shortstop job in 1999 before being sent down at the end of spring training.

He played the entire season at triple-A Calgary, hitting .279 with 17 homers and 64 runs batted in, but wasn't even called up in September. He became a free agent that winter but received no offers through January.

The word was out: Gil didn't work hard, he was selfish.

"I wasn't the most pleasant person when I was with the White Sox, and that may have had something to do with it," Gil said. "I thought I did the things they wanted me to do in spring training to make the club.

"I had a great first month in Calgary, but I think I was just an insurance policy for Caruso. By the All-Star break, frustration kicked in, and I wasn't a pleasant person. But the one thing I've always done is work hard."

Two weeks before spring training last year, Gil, now 28, was offered a minor league contract with the Angels. Gil jumped at it, and because of injuries to Gary DiSarcina, Gil has been the Angel starter ever since.

Gil has provided solid defense, but he gave the Angels an added bonus this week, going 10 for 11 with a homer and four RBIs in three games from Sunday to Wednesday, and he added a two-run double in the sixth inning Thursday night. And his work ethic has never been questioned.

"Benji has earned everything he's gotten," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He realizes the high expectations we have for him and what he needs to do. He doesn't take anything for granted."

*

Second baseman Adam Kennedy, sidelined since March 8 because of a broken bone in his right hand, was activated for tonight's game.

But considering how David Eckstein has played in his absence--Eckstein took a .393 average into Thursday's game--Kennedy wonders how Scioscia can justify giving him his job back.

"I don't see how they can take [Eckstein] out right now," Kennedy said.

Scioscia has said Kennedy will be the second baseman when he returns, "but I can't take that for granted," Kennedy said. "If I go 0 for 20, I probably won't be in there. I don't think I have much leeway, but I wouldn't expect any. [Eckstein's play] makes it easier for them to go to someone else if I'm struggling."

*

Reliever Rendy Espina, on the disabled list because of inflammation on his knee from a bug bite, will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga tonight.

ON DECK

* Opponent--Seattle Mariners, three games.

* Site--Edison Field.

* Tonight--7 p.m.

* TV--Fox Sports Net tonight, Saturday night and Sunday.

* Radio--KLAC (570), KMXN (94.3 FM), XPRS (1090).

* Records--Angels 5-4, Mariners 7-2.

* 2000 Record vs. Mariners--5-8.

TONIGHT

ANGELS' SCOTT SCHOENEWEIS

(1-1, 4.15 ERA)

vs.

MARINERS' BRETT TOMKO

(0-0, 3.86 ERA)

* Update--The Mariners are the only American League West team that has gotten consistent production from key hitters, as Edgar Martinez (.433, two homers, eight RBIs), John Olerud (.300, seven RBIs), Mike Cameron (.353), Ichiro Suzuki (.359) and Brett Boone (.400, nine RBIs) are off to good starts. Entering Thursday's game, the heart of the Angel order, Tim Salmon, Troy Glaus and Garret Anderson, was hitting a combined .213 (20 for 94), though Glaus had four home runs. Schoeneweis has walked more batters (nine) in two starts than he did in 20 1/3 spring-training innings (two), but the left-hander has been effective because of his lively sinker.

* Saturday, 7 p.m.--Ismael Valdes (2-7, 5.63 in 2000) vs. Freddy Garcia (0-0, 6.75).

* Sunday, 1 p.m.--Pat Rapp (0-2, 13.00) vs. John Halama (1-1, 5.58).

* Tickets: (714) 663-9000.

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