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ANGEL REPORT

Sele Could Use a Breakthrough

April 16, 2002|Ben Bolch

If Aaron Sele is to break out of his early-season funk and become the dependable starting pitcher the Angels expected when they signed him to a three-year, $24-million contract during the off-season, tonight might be a good time for the right-hander to start paying dividends.

Sele faces a Texas lineup batting .251, sixth worst in the American League. A solid outing is almost a necessity for the pitcher who got whacked in his first two outings, against powers Cleveland and Seattle, going 0-2 with a 9.90 earned-run average.

"Aaron had a couple of tough starts," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said. "But it's some subtle adjustments that are going to get him locked in, not any major overhaul. We're confident that it's going to happen.

"When does it have to happen? Hopefully, it's this start. If not this start, it's going to be fairly shortly."

Sele, who declined to discuss his start against Texas on Sunday after the Angels defeated the Oakland Athletics, 4-1, has given up 18 hits in 10 innings while bearing little resemblance to the pitcher who last season won 15 games with a 3.60 ERA for Seattle.

"If you say, 'When's the time for a guy to pick it up?' for me, it's yesterday," Scioscia said. "You have to come out here with the feeling that you're going to be able to focus, compete and get it done."

*

Momentum has not been a word bandied about the Angel clubhouse as the club tied for its worst start in franchise history at 3-8, but several players indicated that the team's victory over Oakland just might spark a winning streak.

"We were kind of dead as far as momentum went, and I think [the victory] is going to help in every aspect of the game," said first baseman Scott Spiezio, whose run-scoring single in the fourth inning put the Angels ahead to stay. "It's going to get us some momentum."

If nothing else, the victory over Oakland ended a six-game skid and put the Angels in position to end a nine-game home stand on a positive note. The Angels' two remaining games at home are against Texas, the AL West bottom feeder whose only highlight has been turning the first triple play in the majors this season.

Less than two weeks ago, the Angels defeated the Rangers in the first two games of a three-game series at Arlington, Texas, before the third game was rained out. Nonetheless, the Angels are the first to acknowledge that past success is no guarantee of future results.

"Yeah, we beat them twice at their park, but that's not by any means a team you just look beyond," said center fielder Garret Anderson, who broke out of an 0-for-20 slump by hitting a home run in each of the Angels' last two games. "They've got some great players."

Texas shortstop Alex Rodriguez hit two home runs Sunday for the 21st multi-homer game of his career, but it wasn't enough and the Rangers fell to Seattle, 9-7, to extend their losing streak to three games.

*

Angel relievers Dennis Cook and Al Levine combined to pitch two scoreless innings Sunday, easing, for the moment at least, concerns about the return of closer Troy Percival.

Percival is expected to throw in a simulated game today or Wednesday as he approaches reactivation sometime this weekend. He was put on the 15-day disabled list April 6, retroactive to April 3, because of a strained rib-cage muscle.

Scioscia said the club is letting Percival's body dictate his return instead of any preset timetable.

"We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves," Scioscia said. "We just want to make sure he's healthy before we make any decisions."

ON DECK

Opponent--Texas Rangers.

Site--Edison Field.

Tonight--7.

TV--Channel 9 tonight.

Radio--KLAC (570) tonight, KPLS (830) Wednesday; XPRS (1090) both games.

Records--Angels 4-8, Rangers 3-9.

Record vs. Rangers--2-0.

TONIGHT

ANGELS'

AARON SELE

(0-2, 9.90 ERA)

VS.

RANGERS'

DOUG DAVIS

(2-0, 1.13 ERA)

Update--Davis has lasted at least seven innings in each of his two starts. He was especially impressive in his last outing, shutting out Oakland in a 7-0 Ranger victory that marked the first time the A's had failed to score in 104 consecutive games. Texas is continuing to play without outfielder Juan Gonzalez, put on the 15-day disabled list Thursday because of torn muscle fibers in his right hand. He was batting .250 with no home runs or RBIs in 24 at-bats.

Wednesday, 7--Scott Schoeneweis (1-1, 5.79) vs. Ismael Valdes (0-2, 6.35).

Tickets--(714) 663-9000.

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