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ANGEL REPORT

Scioscia Defends Spiezio's Defense

August 04, 2003|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Scott Spiezio has made three errors in two weeks since replacing Troy Glaus at third base, but Angel Manager Mike Scioscia expressed confidence in the substitute Sunday even after he sailed a throw over the head of first baseman Robb Quinlan.

"Spiezio can play third base," Scioscia said. "He just got a little lazy with his arm angle."

The error was the second in two days for Spiezio, who has played third in 11 of the 13 games since Glaus injured his right shoulder after slipping on the artificial turf at Tropicana Field. Benji Gil and Alfredo Amezaga have each filled in one game at third, but Spiezio appears to be the most natural fit there after playing the position throughout his minor league career.

Spiezio, normally a first baseman, appears adept at fielding the ball at the other corner infield position but has had trouble making the throw to first. He one-hopped a ball in the dirt past first baseman Shawn Wooten for an error Saturday.

Still, it's not like the Angels are missing Gold Glove-caliber defense with their regular third baseman out indefinitely. Glaus committed 16 errors in 91 games, more than twice as many as any teammate.

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Darin Erstad said he was unable to remain in Saturday's game after breaking a protective knee brace in the seventh inning while making a sliding catch because it would have taken 10 to 15 minutes to put on a new one.

"I didn't want to put our pitcher under that type of wait," said Erstad, replaced by Jeff DaVanon in center field Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays although he was not injured on the play.

Erstad, who has ruined two braces in eight days, was fitted with a more durable custom brace Sunday and stood in the on-deck circle as a pinch-hitter before Quinlan struck out to end the game.

Erstad expects to be back in the starting lineup Tuesday when the Angels open a three-game series against Boston at Fenway Park.

Though Erstad continues to excel on defense since returning from a 42-game absence caused by tendinitis in his right hamstring, he is still searching for answers on offense after watching his batting average plummet from .333 to .258.

"I felt I'd be able to take good swings, and obviously I haven't," said the career .289 hitter. "It's trying to make the most out of what you have. Your mind is telling you what to do and your body is not cooperating."

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Prospect Kevin Gregg, a candidate to make a spot start for the Angels next Saturday against the Cleveland Indians, set a triple-A Salt Lake franchise record Saturday by extending his scoreless streak to 27 1/3 innings before giving up five runs in the fourth inning. Gregg (5-3) still collected his fourth consecutive victory as the Stingers defeated the Omaha Royals, 8-7.

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