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DODGER-ANGEL REPORT

Jordan Tells Green to Relax

June 21, 2003|Mike DiGiovanna and Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writers

The heart of the Dodger order had a little heart-to-heart chat the other night. The message from underachieving left fielder Brian Jordan to struggling right fielder Shawn Green: Don't be so hard on yourself.

"He can't put that kind of pressure on himself to carry the team," Jordan said. "He can't do that, and I can't do that. It's about a team effort. Once we realize that, I think we can take off."

Green entered Friday night's game against the Angels with a .251 average, seven home runs and 36 runs batted in, far off the pace of 2001 and 2002, when he averaged 45 homers and 120 RBIs. His fourth-inning homer off Angel left-hander Jarrod Washburn was only his second in 24 games.

Though Green is about as even-keeled as baseball players come, showing little emotion whether he strikes out or hits four homers in a game, his season-long slump has weighed heavily on him.

It hasn't helped that the entire Dodger offense, with the exception of Paul Lo Duca, has struggled, beginning Friday night ranked last in the National League in batting (.245), runs (254), home runs (41), walks (187), slugging percentage (.359) and on-base percentage (.309).

Green hasn't been getting many pitches to hit, and one reason he's struggling is he has at times expanded his strike zone, swinging at pitches off the plate or in the dirt.

"I'm frustrated with myself, but at the same time, we're a game out of first place with a better record than we had at this time last year," Green said. "I imagine it will come eventually, and that's encouraging to everyone.

"One through eight in the lineup, with the exception of Lo Duca, we have some catching up to do. It would be very rare to have an entire lineup have subpar seasons."

Green said Jordan's words of encouragement helped ease the burden -- at least temporarily.

"He just said to relax, have fun, don't worry about it -- it was nice to hear that from a teammate," Green said. "Everyone is pressing. The offense has struggled, but at the same time, we've had winning streaks of 10 and eight games.

"To accomplish our ultimate goal, we need to have the offense there. But as long as we win ... I've had great years the last two years and we've finished third."

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The Angels' Mickey Callaway threw about 30 pitches during a simulated game Friday and could soon embark on a minor league rehabilitation assignment.

The converted starter is eligible to come off the disabled list today after being sidelined since June 6 because of tendinitis in his right shoulder, but there is no guarantee the right-hander will rejoin the Angel roster once his rehab assignment is complete.

If the Angels decide to make room for Callaway, they probably will switch from an 11- to a 12-man pitching staff, necessitating the demotion of a position player to the minor leagues. Reserve outfielder Jeff DaVanon, the most likely candidate to be demoted, is hitting .395 over his last 81 at-bats and probably would be considered too valuable to lose.

Complicating matters is the fact that Callaway is out of options, meaning he would have to clear waivers if the Angels decided to send him back to triple-A Salt Lake, where he spent most of last season.

*

The Angels had been shut out three times in 10 games and had generated only 3.2 runs a game over that span before Friday's game.

Still, Manager Mike Scioscia continued to pin his team's inconsistency on the 4.88 earned-run average of his starting pitchers.

"I think if we're looking [to find] why our club is .500, it's not on the offensive end," Scioscia said. "So even though maybe some of these guys are in some dry spells, it hasn't impacted our record as much as our inconsistency of some starting pitchers.

"We're certainly supporting ourselves on the offensive side. We're getting over five runs [5.0, actually] a game. I think there are some positive things there that I'm confident will continue."

*

Troy Glaus had to leave the game in the eighth inning because of back spasms after falling to the dirt to avoid a high and inside fastball from Dodger reliever Paul Shuey. Scioscia said the injury did not appear serious but he did not know whether the Angel third baseman, replaced Friday by Scott Spiezio, would be available today.

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