MINNEAPOLIS — In North Dakota, a state colonized for baseball long ago by the Minnesota Twins, the Angels have made inroads into developing a fan base of their own.
"They've been Twins fans their whole lives," Angel center fielder Darin Erstad said. "Now they have someone else to cheer for."
That someone is Erstad, a native son of North Dakota. In Jamestown, population 15,000, a billboard proclaims the place as Erstad's hometown. KSJB, a Jamestown radio station with a booming signal that extends into six states and two Canadian provinces, airs broadcasts of Angel games.
The Angels send along shirts, caps and other promotional items for the radio station to use in marketing the team, according to Angel broadcasting director Jay Lucas. The Angels also provide tickets so KSJB can invite listeners to win a contest to see Erstad and his team play--in the Metrodome, of course, about a six-hour drive from Jamestown.
Lucas would love to sign up a radio station to air the Angels in the Phoenix area, their spring training home, or in Las Vegas. No such luck, but thanks to Erstad the Angels can be heard thousands of miles from home, on KSJB.
"It may be the most offbeat affiliate in baseball," Lucas said, "and it's basically because of Darin."
Manager Mike Scioscia set himself up for criticism by setting up a championship series rotation that could have Ramon Ortiz starting twice in the Metrodome. The decibel level is loud and louder beneath the dome, not the most beneficial environment for Ortiz, a notoriously excitable sort.
But Scioscia is well aware that Ortiz is a far better pitcher on regular rest than on extra rest.
In the first round of the playoffs, working on eight days' rest, Ortiz gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings.
During the regular season, Ortiz went 5-6 with a 4.81 ERA on extra rest and 10-3 with a 3.08 ERA on the regular four days' rest. He pitches tonight with four days' rest.
Angel reliever Scott Schoeneweis was amused to pick up USA Today and see his picture, above a caption that identified him as Erstad. "We don't look anything at all alike whatsoever," Schoeneweis said, "but it's not like anyone knows me to say, 'Oops, that's Schoeneweis.' " ... The Angels assigned rookie infielder Chone Figgins to the Arizona Fall League, but he made the playoff roster as a pinch-runner and is spending October playing before crowds of 55,000 in the Metrodome instead of, well, 55 in Arizona. "I'll take this any day," Figgins said. "But I still want to go there after the season's over. I have some things to work on." ... Third-string catcher Sal Fasano, who had been insurance against an injury to Bengie and Jose Molina, is out for the season after suffering a torn ligament in his elbow. Fasano was not on the playoff roster, and General Manager Bill Stoneman said he did not plan to call up a minor league catcher to replace Fasano on the taxi squad.