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ANGEL REPORT

How Can the Team Rebound? Just Ask Howe

April 15, 2002|Gary Klein

The Angels' 4-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday improved their record to 4-8 and buoyed their hopes of contending for the American League West championship.

For inspiration in ways to overcome a slow start, all the Angels had to do was look across the field.

Last season, the Athletics began the season with high expectations, only to start 8-18.

The A's recovered to finish with 102 victories and earn the AL wild-card spot.

Oakland Manager Art Howe said he sympathizes somewhat with the Angels.

"I feel for them because I know what it's like," Howe said before Sunday's game. "On the other hand, I'm glad it's them and not us."

Howe said the unbalanced schedule, which has AL West teams playing 19 consecutive games against each other, can work both ways.

"When you're playing well, it allows you to put some distance between you and the other clubs," said Howe, whose team is 8-5. "If you don't play well coming out of the blocks, it's an uphill battle the rest of the way. It's tough to overcome. We were phenomenal last year. I don't know if you can expect that kind of performance very often, but it can be done."

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Angel pitcher Jarrod Washburn said there was something positive that came out of his 4-2/3 inning performance Saturday night in a 7-2 loss to the A's.

"The only good thing is that I did make an adjustment after I gave up a home run [to Eric Chavez]," said Washburn, who is 0-2 with a 6.00 earned-run average.

"I started getting ahead of hitters and hitting more spots.

"Unfortunately, I had already lost the game before figuring it out."

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Closer Troy Percival threw in the bullpen for seven minutes and will probably throw in a simulated game Tuesday or Wednesday as he progresses toward becoming activated Friday or Saturday.

Percival, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 3 because of a strained muscle in his rib cage, said he threw a few pitches with 100% effort but most were in the 90%-95% range.

Percival expects to be utilized in save situations immediately when he returns.

"I don't need to ease my way back," he said. "Last year there were numerous times I had 10 days off. There is no difference here."

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Utility man Benji Gil, on the disabled list since April 6 because of a sprained left ankle, is continuing daily treatment and is hoping to return soon.

"A couple of days ago, it felt like I took a step backward, but it's much better today." Gil said.

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A Chavez home run usually results in a victory for the A's.

Oakland had won 23 consecutive games in which Chavez homered before Sunday

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