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ANGEL NOTES

Rodriguez Might Not Get Much Rest This Winter

October 25, 2002|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — For the most precious of young arms among the Angels, the season will not end this weekend. Francisco Rodriguez plans to pitch winter ball in his homeland, and his Venezuelan team already is touting his upcoming arrival.

To the world, Rodriguez is baseball's newest pitching sensation. The Angels, however, do not forget the two years that preceded this one, years in which his career was stalled by recurrent bouts of tendinitis in his pitching elbow and shoulder.

Rodriguez, 20, has pitched 104 innings this season. In his three previous professional seasons, he never threw more than 114 innings. While the Angels appreciate his desire to pitch at home, pitching coach Bud Black is wary of the additional strain on such a young and valuable arm.

"I would advise him to be very concerned about how much he throws in winter ball," Black said. "I don't want him to be overworked."

Although Rodriguez said he would skip winter ball if the Angels asked -- "I have a boss like anybody else," he said -- General Manager Bill Stoneman said he is not uneasy about it.

The Angels cannot prevent Rodriguez from playing, Stoneman said. He also said he trusts Bobby Cuellar, the pitching coach of Rodriguez's winter team and a pitching coach for the Montreal Expos when Stoneman worked there, to look out for the best interests of the pitcher.

Rodriguez threw more sliders than fastballs in Game 4 of the World Series, when he was the losing pitcher. He said the pitch selection did not reflect fatigue in his arm.

"I felt fine," he said. "I can't throw fastballs every time. Last time, I threw them a lot of fastballs, and I thought they would be waiting for a fastball. I try to mix it up a little bit."

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If the Angels win Game 6 and force a decisive Game 7, Manager Mike Scioscia said Thursday the pitcher in Game 7 would be listed as "staff." Translation: The entire staff will be available.

The Angels have not decided whether Ramon Ortiz or John Lackey would start Game 7. They might not decide until after Game 6, because they might need to use Lackey in relief of Kevin Appier that day. Ortiz, bothered by tendinitis in his right wrist during his Game 3 start, is expected to be available. He played catch Thursday and might throw in the bullpen today. Jarrod Washburn is expected to be available in relief.

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Scioscia said he is confident Appier can bounce back and keep the Angels' season alive when he starts Game 6. The Angels have no other option besides Appier, who got six outs in his Game 2 start while giving up five runs.

"He just made bad pitches," Scioscia said. "He could have gone out there with no scouting report or the best scouting report in the world. If you're not executing pitches, it doesn't make a difference."

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Scioscia said he offered a few words of reassurance to catcher Bengie Molina, who blamed himself for the Angels' 4-3 defeat in Game 4. Molina's passed ball allowed J.T. Snow to advance to second base, from where he scored the winning run on a single by David Bell.

Asked at a news conference Thursday whether he was thinking about winning the Gold Glove award, Molina said, "Not right now, after I let that fastball get away yesterday."

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