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ANGEL REPORT

Team Will See Return of Jeter

May 13, 2003|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

The Angels face a double whammy today when they open a three-game series against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in what are expected to be their final days under Disney ownership.

First and foremost in the Angels' minds is the matchup against right-hander Mike Mussina, who leads the American League with seven victories and no defeats and has a 0.38 earned-run average at home.

The Angels also must contend with a Yankee lineup that is expected to feature Derek Jeter for the first time since the shortstop dislocated his left shoulder in an opening-day collision with Toronto catcher Ken Huckaby.

"Any time you get a guy back of his caliber, it has to give your team a lift," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said.

The Yankees went 25-11 while Jeter completed a six-week rehabilitation process, including a 2-1 mark against the Angels.

"Shoot, they really didn't miss a beat without him there but adding him just makes them that much better," shortstop David Eckstein said. "Jeter's a winner and he adds spark to that club."

Jeter appears to have healed not only his shoulder, but also his relationship with George Steinbrenner, who irked the shortstop during the off-season by saying Jeter would be a better player without what the owner perceived as a party lifestyle.

During Jeter's rehab stint, he and Steinbrenner reportedly made a commercial for a credit-card company that played off the tiff by centering on "the right restaurants to go to when partying in New York."

Mussina hasn't suffered from the absence of Jeter's bat in the lineup, becoming the first Yankee pitcher since Bob Turley in 1958 to win his first seven starts. Turley went on to win the Cy Young Award that season.

"[Mussina's] been throwing the ball as well as he ever has in his career," said Scioscia, whose team did not face Mussina during the series at Edison Field.

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John Lackey, still seeking to regain the form that made him the starter last season in Game 7 of the World Series, said going against a marquee opponent such as Mussina would not pump him up for tonight's game.

"I just want to get back to pitching up to my capabilities," Lackey said. "If I do that, I'm not really concerned about who's on the other side."

Said Scioscia, "John's challenge isn't who he's pitching against. His challenge is really executing pitches, working with the catcher getting tunnel vision in the zone. That's what we need John to concentrate on."

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Major League Baseball owners are expected to approve Disney's sale of the Angels to Tucson businessman Arturo Moreno on Thursday during their regular meeting in New York. If the sale is approved, Moreno will take immediate control of the team.

ON DECK

Opponent -- New York Yankees, three games.

Site -- Yankee Stadium.

TV -- Channel 9, today and Thursday, ESPN2 on Wednesday.

Radio -- KSPN (710), KWKU (1220).

Records -- Angels 17-19, Yankees 26-11.

Record vs. Yankees -- 1-2.

Today, 4 p.m. -- John Lackey (1-3, 7.38) vs. Mike Mussina (7-0, 1.70).

Wednesday, 4 p.m. -- Kevin Appier (2-2, 6.17) vs. David Wells (5-0, 2.89).

Thursday, 4 p.m. -- Aaron Sele (1-0, 1.59) vs. Jeff Weaver (2-2, 5.09).

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