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DODGER-ANGEL REPORT

No Conspiracy, but Who Owns Dodgers?

June 22, 2003|Ben Bolch and Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writers

A visibly perturbed Mike Scioscia barked at crew chief Jerry Crawford before the game over a mix-up regarding the game's starting time, but the Angel manager insisted afterward that "it wasn't an issue."

Fox representatives told Scioscia on Friday night and Saturday morning that the nationally televised game would start at 1:20 p.m., but in fact it started eight minutes earlier. Scioscia said he stressed to Crawford before the game that starting pitcher John Lackey should be given ample time before taking the mound.

"I wanted to make sure our pitcher was ready," Scioscia said.

Pitching coach Bud Black assured Scioscia that Lackey had received enough time, and Scioscia did not take Crawford up on his offer to give the right-hander additional warmup pitches.

The Dodgers scored all of their runs in the first inning of the 4-2 victory, including a three-run home run by Adrian Beltre, but Scioscia did not pin the early outburst on the confusion over the starting time.

"[Lackey] spit out a curveball, left it up, and Adrian didn't miss it," Scioscia said.

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Jarrod Washburn has yielded a career-worst seven home runs over his last two outings and is on pace to shatter his record of 25 homers surrendered in a season. Yet the Angel starter said he believes he can re-establish his dominance with one simple adjustment.

"I think I have to throw inside a little more," said the left-hander, who has given up 18 homers in 15 starts, including nine homers in his last three. "My stuff's really good right now. My slider's good, my fastball has good life and the velocity is getting back to where it should be. It's just a matter of hitting spots and being more consistent."

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David Ross has started seven games behind the plate for the Dodgers this season and hit home runs in three of them. He is a superb defensive catcher who has thrown out two of five base-stealers, including the Angels' David Eckstein with a bullet of a throw to second base Friday night.

Paul Lo Duca's job is hardly in jeopardy; the Dodgers' starting catcher has a team-leading .325 average with five home runs and 26 runs batted in and has handled the Dodger pitching staff with aplomb.

But considering his second-half fade in 2002, when an injury-plagued and fatigued Lo Duca batted .233 after the All-Star break after batting .326 in the first half, wouldn't the Dodgers benefit by pacing Lo Duca more in the first half, especially since they have a solid alternative in Ross?

"That thought goes through my mind a lot," said Manager Jim Tracy, who can ease Lo Duca's workload by starting him occasionally in left field or at first base. "It would benefit Paul to get him out from behind the plate.

"But if [first baseman Fred] McGriff and [left fielder Brian] Jordan are healthy and swinging the bat well, there's no place to put [Ross]. Space becomes a problem, because when all three of those guys [Lo Duca, Jordan, McGriff] are healthy, I want them in the lineup."

Lo Duca is a little banged up again, with a bruised right shin from being hit by a pitch last week and a bruised right forearm suffered in a collision at first base Friday night, but he's not sure whether he'd benefit from more time away from catching.

"There are times when you need the day off, but you're never going to say it," Lo Duca said. "I'm one who never wants a day off."

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Jordan tweaked a muscle on his left side during batting practice Saturday and was pulled from the game in the seventh inning after striking out twice and grounding out in three at-bats. Tracy was already planning to give Jordan today off, and Jordan said he should be ready to return Monday night against San Francisco.

McGriff sat out his seventh consecutive game because of a right groin strain, but Tracy said the first baseman could be available to pinch-hit today and play Monday.... Dave Roberts' first-inning bunt single Saturday was his major league-leading 13th of the season. Seven of those have come in the first inning.... With Andy Ashby's solid 5 1/3-inning, one-run outing, Dodger starting pitchers are 8-1 with a 1.91 earned-run average in the last 11 games.

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Darin Erstad, initially given the day off to rest his right hamstring for the second time since returning from a 42-game absence, stroked a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning. But Erstad, who represented the tying run, was replaced by pinch-runner Eric Owens after expressing concerns to first-base coach Alfredo Griffin about a potential inability to score on a double by Eckstein, who grounded out to end the game.... Troy Glaus sat out the game to recover from spasms in the middle of his lower back he had experienced Friday after falling to the ground to dodge a high and inside pitch. He received treatment before the game and is listed as day to day.... The Angels have signed 16 draft picks, including 11 of their first 13 selections.

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