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ANGEL REPORT

Little Breakdowns Marring Big Picture

March 15, 2003|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

SURPRISE, Ariz. — That the Angels are saddled with the worst record in the Cactus League halfway through their spring training schedule is insignificant. Spring outcomes couldn't mean less if they were determined on a video game console.

But the fact that the Angels have struggled at times to execute and put away games has been a bit disconcerting to Manager Mike Scioscia.

"There are some things that I know our club can be doing, and when it doesn't it's a little disappointing," Scioscia said Friday before his team squandered leads of 8-3 and 9-8 during a 9-9 tie with the Texas Rangers in 10 innings at Surprise Stadium.

"Offensively, we're not swinging the bats like we can and we haven't created as many situations as I know we will. That's to be expected. That's what spring training games are for.

"That being said, when you don't have the execution you're looking for -- things like not getting the bunt down or maybe not doing something in a way you should -- you want to address it and make sure they're working toward the goal."

The Angels (5-11-1) are batting .258 and entered the game Friday with an earned-run average of 5.78. They had lost four of five games before the tie.

Still, there were a few positive developments against the Rangers. Chone Figgins, getting a start in right field, had three hits, drove in two runs and stole two bases. David Eckstein moved a runner to third with less than two outs, Adam Kennedy drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Barry Wesson scored from second base on a sharply hit ball to right field.

"We saw more of the things we need to do today, and that's a good sign," Scioscia said. "We're moving toward playing our type of game. We're not yet there, but we're taking good strides."

*

Kevin Appier rebounded from a disastrous start to throw 4 1/3 solid innings, giving up three hits and two runs.

He said he was able to maintain his balance on the mound, unlike Sunday, when he gave up five runs in an inning.

"I was falling off real bad," Appier said of his last appearance. "My foot was hitting on the side."

His 53-pitch outing Friday was his longest of the spring and a sign that he has progressed as expected.

"His pitches are getting sharper," Scioscia said. "It's pretty much his track record as he moves through spring."

*

Right-hander Matt Hensley endured a frightening moment when a line drive off the bat of Mark Teixeira glanced off his glove and hit him on the side of the head. Hensley left the game and was examined by team trainers, though the extent of his injury was not immediately known.

"He was real dizzy," Scioscia said. "He walked off and seemed OK, but we'll see how he is."

*

Ace Jarrod Washburn threw what Scioscia called "an excellent" bullpen session Friday, bolstering his recovery from a shoulder injury suffered March 3 while covering first base during a fielding drill. Whether Washburn can make his opening-day start as scheduled depends on how quickly he is able to restore his arm strength and stamina over the next two weeks.... The Angels have set a franchise record for season ticket sales, with more than 20,000 sold as of Thursday. The club's previous high was 18,747 in 1990, a year after the team finished 20 games above .500 but out of the playoffs.

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