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ANGEL REPORT

Scioscia Is Optimistic About Next Season

September 19, 2003|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

For years, Mike Scioscia has referred to the Angels' core as championship-caliber, but to use another of his favorite cliches, the proof wasn't in the pudding until last season when his team won the World Series.

Given that the Angels opened the 2003 season on top of the baseball world, their 23-38 second-half slide has constituted one of the most frustrating stretches of Scioscia's managerial career, even taking into account the slew of injuries that landed 12 players on the disabled list.

"This is our fourth year here, and I think we've had a couple of tough stretches," Scioscia said. "One was in September 2001 [when the Angels finished the season by losing 25 of their final 31 games] and then the stretch from the end of the All-Star break until now."

Nonetheless, Scioscia said his frustration has been lessened with the knowledge that more than half of his regulars are sidelined by injuries and most of the remaining players have seldom played up to their capabilities.

"It would be more frustrating if everybody was in the lineup and everybody was healthy and everybody was productive, all the pieces were doing what they should be doing and we're not winning," he said.

"That's the frustration because you're starting to go, 'Wow, something's not right here.' That's when you've got to look hard in the mirror to see if maybe you need to do something different or some changes need to be made. It's obvious that has not been the case this year."

Batting coach Mickey Hatcher marveled over the way Scioscia has maintained his composure amid difficult circumstances.

"That's the one thing great about Mike Scioscia, the fact that he doesn't change," Hatcher said. "To the players, he stays on that even keel through the good and the bad.

"The only frustrations are when he feels like the players aren't out there giving it their best. He closes the doors and he lets players know how he feels and keeps them focused on playing our game."

Scioscia said the prospects for success in 2004 also have kept his spirits up.

"It's understanding the situation and seeing the opportunity to get that championship club back where it needs to be," he said. "The probability that it will get back this winter and resurface next spring tempers a lot of our frustration with optimism, and we're excited about that."

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The Angels' months-long scramble to televise games on a Spanish-language channel paid off recently when Channel 22 agreed to broadcast two home games during the final weekend of the season.

Angel owner Arte Moreno said he's not stopping there.

"In a perfect world, we'll have all games televised in English and Spanish," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, for us being in a No. 2 media market, it's crazy that they're not."

Moreno also said the Angels would attempt to increase in-stadium advertising such as billboards on the outfield walls and increase marketing efforts to children to offset the heavy financial losses anticipated for next season. Moreno estimated the team would lose between $10 million and $12 million next season before taking into account money spent on free agents. Moreno said the team would increase its efforts to build interest among children at schools, Little Leagues and Boys and Girls Clubs.

"There needs to be the total package of media, in-stadium advertising, etc.," Moreno said. "It will take some time. But if we can create enough demand for our product, we'll increase our audience, which means [additional] revenue."

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The Angels plan to give away up to $3 million after their season finale Sept. 28 against the Texas Rangers at Edison Field in appreciation of surpassing 3 million fans for the first time in franchise history. Three fans will be randomly selected to participate in a postgame ball-tossing contest with the chance to win $1 million apiece. All fans will receive a T-shirt and team photo with an opportunity to win other prizes during the game.

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ON DECK

Opponent -- Texas Rangers, three games.

Site -- The Ballpark in Arlington.

TV -- Channel 9 tonight and Saturday, ESPN2 Sunday.

Radio -- KSPN (710), KWKU (1220) tonight, XKAM (950) Saturday and Sunday.

Records -- Angels 72-81, Rangers 68-85.

Record vs. Rangers -- 6-7.

Today, 5 p.m. -- John Lackey (9-15, 4.86) vs. R.A. Dickey (8-8, 5.38).

Saturday, 5 p.m. -- Aaron Sele (7-10, 5.50) vs. Colby Lewis (8-9, 7.67).

Sunday, 4:30 p.m. -- Ramon Ortiz (15-12, 5.11) vs. John Thomson (13-13, 4.89).

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