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ANGEL REPORT

Eckstein Is Team's Iron Man

May 19, 2003|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

BOSTON — Shortstop David Eckstein has yet to miss a game this season, and Angel infield coach Alfredo Griffin sees no reason why Eckstein cannot play in all 162 games.

"He can do it," Griffin said. "Physically, I think he can take it. I think he can stay strong enough to play every day."

Aside from catcher and pitcher, a shortstop plays the most physically demanding position. And while Cal Ripken played shortstop while setting the record for consecutive games, Ripken stood 6-4 and weighed 225 pounds. Eckstein is 5-6 and 165 but is surprisingly strong thanks to a rigorous workout schedule that includes weightlifting sessions every day in the off-season and four times a week during the season.

Griffin also weighed 165 pounds during his playing career, at 5-11. He once played 392 consecutive games for Toronto. No Angel shortstop has played 162 games since Jim Fregosi in 1966.

The Angels have had an off day during almost every week so far, and Manager Mike Scioscia won't hesitate to rest Eckstein if he senses the leadoff hitter tiring as the off days become less frequent. But, particularly with Darin Erstad injured, the Angels need their catalyst in the lineup.

"I think Scioscia does a great job of knowing when someone needs a day off," Eckstein said. "But the goal is definitely to play every day."

*

When Boston starter John Burkett pitched in Anaheim last month, the Angels suspected him of scuffing balls and directed umpires to search him on the mound. So the umpires checked his glove and his pants pockets, but nothing was found.

In Anaheim, Burkett gave up three runs in eight innings and lost. On Sunday, Burkett gave up one run in seven innings and won, and was asked whether he scuffed the ball differently.

"No," he said. "I told you guys before, I wasn't cheating. It's nice to be able to go out there and shut those guys down after being accused."

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