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Eckstein Finds Himself in Bruising Profession

April 27, 2001|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

CLEVELAND — Infielder David Eckstein was hit by a pitch four times in the Angels' first 21 games, putting him on pace to get hit 31 times this season, which is about par for him.

Eckstein got hit 25 times in each of his last two minor league seasons and considers that part of his job, especially now that he's leading off for the Angels. He took a 95-mph fastball on the left arm to open Tuesday night's game, sparking a two-run rally in the Angels' 7-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

"You don't want to get hit by a 95-mph fastball--that can threaten your career," Eckstein said. "But sometimes the situation dictates that you have to do whatever you can to help the team by getting on base."

Eckstein, in his fifth professional season, has been hit by a pitch 88 times, but he has never charged the mound. That may have something to do with his 5-foot-8, 170-pound build.

"I would never charge the mound," Eckstein said. "I understand people are going to pitch me inside, and it's tough to pinpoint location because I'm right on top of the plate."


Angel center fielder Darin Erstad had to leave Thursday night's game in the eighth inning because of lower-back spasms that have been bothering him virtually all season.

Erstad said his back locked up after he caught a routine fly ball in the first inning. He stayed in the game but looked awkward when he struck out swinging at a pitch by Paul Shuey in the eighth that was low and away.

"You see what I look like swinging--it's not right," Erstad said. "I've been battling this for quite a while. Sometimes it's bad; sometimes I can play with it. [Today] I could be fine. I'll get my back readjusted. It's just a matter of whether it stays [aligned] or not."


* Opponent--Toronto Blue Jays, three games.

* Site--SkyDome, Toronto.

* Today--4 p.m. PDT.

* TV--None.

* Radio--KLAC (570), XPRS (1090) today and Saturday; KMPC (1540), KMXN-FM (94.3), XPRS (1090) Sunday.

* Records--Angels 9-13, Blue Jays 14-7.

* Record vs. Blue Jays (2000)--5-7.




(0-2, 6.75 ERA)




(3-1, 2.81 ERA)

* Update--The Blue Jays, under first-year Manager Buck Martinez, have pounded 32 home runs, second most in the league, and first baseman Carlos Delgado leads the league with 10 homers. Leadoff batter Shannon Stewart leads the league with 21 runs and ranks second with a .393 average, and designated hitter Brad Fullmer ranks second with 21 RBIs. The Angel bullpen started Thursday night's game with a 1.88 earned-run average, the lowest in the league.

* Saturday, 10 a.m. PDT--Ramon Ortiz (2-2, 4.62) vs. Chris Machalak (3-0, 1.62).

* Sunday, 10 a.m. PDT--Scott Schoeneweis (2-1, 3.22) vs. Joey Hamilton (1-0, 3.64).

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