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ANGEL REPORT

Bellinger Knows About Winning

March 13, 2002|BILL SHAIKIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Phoenix — PHOENIX--We're all still waiting for that first World Series championship parade in Anaheim, but for now the Angels can gather round Clay Bellinger's locker and listen.

"Here in Arizona, guys will tell you they were in a World Series parade last year, but that's not the same as a parade in New York," Bellinger said Tuesday. "Three-and-a-half million people, there's people throwing things out of buildings 30 stories up, stuff you can't describe unless you're there. It's unbelievable."

Bellinger, 33, trying to beat out Jeff DaVanon, Jose Nieves and Jamie Burke for the Angels' last bench spot, was a utility player for the New York Yankees the last three seasons. When center fielder Bernie Williams caught the final out of the 2000 World Series, Bellinger was in left field.

When the Yankees released him, Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman called, looking for someone who could play anywhere, play sparingly and be happy about it. That description fit Bellinger perfectly. He played every position except pitcher and catcher for the Yankees, he endured six triple-A seasons and he is enormously proud of his two World Series championship rings, no matter how limited his contributions to winning them.

"You don't give rings to nine guys," he said. "You give rings to 25 guys."

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Every day, David Eckstein works out with the Angels. Every night, Eckstein goes home, where he can hear his roommate tell him how the Oakland Athletics can whip the Angels.

Eckstein is sharing a Scottsdale, Ariz., apartment this spring with Mark Ellis, who is trying to make the Oakland roster as a utility infielder. They were teammates at the University of Florida--Eckstein was the second baseman, Ellis the shortstop--and beneath all the kidding Ellis takes heart in the example set by his roommate. Eckstein wasn't supposed to make the Angel roster last spring, got his chance when Adam Kennedy got hurt, and hasn't seen the minor leagues since.

"Everyone always doubted him," Ellis said. "No one even thought he would be drafted. Now he's a starting shortstop in the big leagues."

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Ramon Ortiz pitched four shutout innings and struck out four in a 4-3 loss to Oakland. "Everybody says, 'Spring training, I don't care.' I care," Ortiz said. "I don't like people hitting home runs off me." ... Matt Wise, who lost his spot in the starting rotation when the Angels acquired Kevin Appier and Aaron Sele in December, made his first relief appearance of the spring. The Angels will give Wise a shot at a bullpen job but figure to return him to triple-A Salt Lake City as a starter....Nathan Haynes, the top-ranked outfield prospect in the organization, is expected to sit out the next four months following surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. Haynes was injured when he slipped running the bases in an exhibition game last week.

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