Tim Salmon awoke to a pleasant surprise Thursday: His right hamstring, which had tightened Wednesday and led to his early exit from Game 2, felt considerably better. After taking it easy Thursday, he was optimistic he will be able to play tonight--and somewhat taken aback by the number of reporters who asked about his fitness.
"It loosened up a lot. I walked around on it with no problem," said Salmon, who received a cortisone injection in his leg Wednesday. "If this was the middle of the season and my hammy got tight, it wouldn't have been a big deal. It's a big deal because it's postseason and I came out of the game. I had enough of them over the course of the year.
"I'm not real concerned about it. I know it's day to day. ... Even [Wednesday] I could have gotten through it and governed it, but is it worth the chance of making it worse?"
Manager Mike Scioscia said Salmon will be examined today.
"If he can go out there without risking injury, then obviously he's going to play," Scioscia said.
Salmon may have injured the leg while making two running catches in the first three innings of Game 2, but he is expected to return to right field.
Although players claim they always take things one game at a time, Salmon couldn't help looking ahead to Game 4 on Saturday, when Brad Radke is expected to start for the Twins.
Radke is 11-4 with a 1.72 earned-run average against the Angels for his career.
"Radke is the Greg Maddux of our league--a finesse pitcher who changes speeds and has control of all his pitches," Salmon said. "He turns your at-bats into mental games. You think, 'What's next?' He doesn't set any patterns and he's not going to give you a pitch in the same spot twice."
The Angels' third and fourth hitters were 0 for 16 in the first two games against Minnesota, while the Twins' 3-4 hitters were five for 15. The Angels' 1 through 4 batters were six for 34 (.176), and the Twins' 1 through 4 batters were eight for 31 (.258). The Angels' 5 through 9 hitters were eight for 35 (.229) compared with the Twins' eight for 31 (.258).
Both teams were three for nine with runners in scoring position.
Tim Mead, Angel vice president of communications, got a phone call earlier this week from Chuck Finley, the former Angel pitcher and franchise player who is scheduled to start Game 3 of the National League championship series for the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
"He said to put your flak jacket on," Mead said, "because we're on a collision course."
Some crash that would be. Could you imagine Finley, who played 14 years (1986-99) for the Angels and was for so long the team's lone remaining link to their last playoff appearance in 1986, finally reaching the World Series and pitching in Edison Field? For the Cardinals? With former Angel Jim Edmonds behind him in center field?
"That would be the ultimate fun," Mead said. "It would show that everything worked out for everyone. Jimmy has had the chance to play in one of America's ultimate baseball cities, and when Chuck said it was time to move on, he made the playoffs with Cleveland [in 2001] and now St. Louis. It would be a multidimensional thrill for Chuck to pitch in our park in the World Series."
The Angels made virtually no attempt to re-sign Finley when the left-hander became a free agent in 1999, and with a surplus of outfielders, General Manager Bill Stoneman traded the oft-injured and often-misunderstood Edmonds to the Cardinals for pitcher Kent Bottenfield and second baseman Adam Kennedy in the spring of 2000.
Edmonds has been one of the National League's most productive outfielders since the deal, a key component on Cardinal teams that reached the playoffs the last two seasons, and Finley went 7-4 with a 3.80 earned-run average in 14 games after being traded from the Indians to the Cardinals on July 14.
"We're not thinking too far ahead," said Angel closer Troy Percival, who also talked to Finley last week, "but I'm sure it would be a lot of fun to meet up with him."