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ANGEL REPORT

Vaughn 'Envious' of Percival & Co.

February 19, 2003|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. — When Mo Vaughn and the New York Mets visit Edison Field in June, the World Series championship flag will be flying in Anaheim. One year after berating closer Troy Percival and belittling the Angels, Vaughn acknowledged he is "envious" of Percival and of his former team.

After Percival said last spring that the Angels would miss Vaughn's bat but not his leadership, the first baseman responded with an expletive-filled tirade in which he bellowed that the Angels "ain't got no flags hanging at ... Edison Field." And on Percival: "Has he led his team to a pennant? Has he ever ... pitched in a big game that meant something?"

As the Angels won their first title, Percival recorded the final out in each of three rounds of the playoffs. The Mets, after acquiring Vaughn from the Angels, finished in last place in the National League East.

"I'm envious," Vaughn said upon reporting to the Mets' training camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Tuesday. "I'm envious of anybody that wins a World Series. Personally, I can't say I wanted to be out there. I'm very happy where I am. I've got friends on that team -- Garret Anderson, a lot of guys out there that I liked.

"I didn't even dislike Troy Percival. I just disliked what he said about me.... He pitched his team to a world championship. We're all envious of that, but I'd like to do it at Shea Stadium."

Percival said he found no motivation in Vaughn's original remarks and no satisfaction in proving him wrong.

"It didn't affect me in the first place," Percival said. "I didn't carry it with me then. I'm not carrying it with me now.... I only worry about what the guys in my locker room say."

Percival chuckled when told that some Angel fans were buying tickets for the Met series so they could boo Vaughn.

"As long as we've got our fans rooting for us, that's all that matters to me," Percival said.

*

World Series hero Scott Spiezio reported to camp Tuesday, the first day of what could be his final season with the Angels. The Angels rejected Spiezio's request for a long-term contract, and he is eligible for free agency this fall.

In explaining the Angels' decision, General Manager Bill Stoneman cited the potential of prospects Robb Quinlan and Casey Kotchman. Quinlan, the Pacific Coast League most valuable player last season, is in camp trying to make the team as an extra outfielder, but his best position is first base. Kotchman, the Angels' top prospect, is a top-caliber defensive first baseman who could ascend to the major leagues in 2004 or 2005.

While the Angels haven't ruled out retaining Spiezio beyond this season, they prefer to preserve their options. They already have committed $65 million next season to nine players -- Percival, starting pitchers Kevin Appier, Ramon Ortiz and Aaron Sele, catcher Bengie Molina, third baseman Troy Glaus and outfielders Anderson, Darin Erstad and Tim Salmon.

"You can't lock everybody up, or you'd lose total flexibility with your roster," Stoneman said. "Had I been Spiezio, I'd have been interested in a multiyear deal too. But we've got a young fellow in Kotchman that we feel will come pretty quick. From a business standpoint, it looked a lot smarter to us to do a one-year deal."

Said Spiezio: "I've got to do the things I did to help the team win and persuade them it's a good deal to sign me. I want to make their decision easy, so they say, 'We have to sign this guy for a couple years.' "

*

Ortiz, delayed in obtaining his visa in the Dominican Republic, is expected to arrive in Arizona today.

Single-game tickets for the regular season go on sale March 1.

Chefs du jour: At the direction of Manager Mike Scioscia, pitching prospects Steve Green, Bobby Jenks and Matt Hensley prepared lunch for the team, a barbecue of chicken and corn.

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