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DODGER-ANGEL REPORT

Lo Duca Expects Suspension of a Game or Two for Gagne

June 26, 2004|Bill Shaikin and Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writers

Although Dodger catcher Paul Lo Duca says he expects closer Eric Gagne to be suspended for his actions during Thursday's bench-clearing incident, Gagne said any such disciplinary action would be unwarranted.

"They'd better not," Gagne said. "It would be totally stupid."

After Michael Tucker of the San Francisco Giants ducked away from a 97-mph fastball from Gagne, he got up, shouted at the Dodger closer, then charged him. Gagne dropped his glove and yelled "Let's go!," but the Dodgers' David Ross restrained Tucker and no punches were thrown.

Major league officials review all ejections to determine whether suspensions and fines should be levied. Umpires ejected Tucker for charging the mound and Gagne for tossing his glove aside and challenging Tucker. Gagne then went jaw-to-jaw with the umpires, and third baseman Adrian Beltre had to restrain him.

"I'm sure there will be something [in terms of a suspension]," Lo Duca said. "Eric was pointing right in the umpire's face. He realizes that's something he shouldn't do."

Lo Duca said he expected Gagne to miss "one or two" games. The Angels' John Lackey is serving a five-game suspension for throwing at a batter.

"They aren't going to suspend Eric for four or five days," Lo Duca said. "If they did that, it would be a travesty."

The Dodgers remained livid at Tucker for what Lo Duca called "overreaction" to a pitch replays showed as high and a little inside. Tucker had tangled with the Dodgers' Jeff Weaver while running to first base Wednesday, but Gagne denied he was throwing at Tucker, in retaliation or otherwise.

"If I wanted to hit him, I would have hit him on the first pitch," Gagne said.

Tucker, who did not comment Thursday, fired back Friday.

"He threw the ball, then walked down toward me smiling like, 'OK, get up,' " Tucker told San Francisco reporters. "That's what got it going. He could throw at me chest-high but not up here [at his head], especially throwing 97 mph with shadows and twilight.

"[Dodger Manager Jim] Tracy and Gagne said I overreacted, but I'll tell you what: Let him get into the box and I'll throw 98 mph at his head and see what they say."

Gagne said Tucker should be suspended for charging the mound and mocked Tucker's response to what Gagne called a routine inside fastball.

"There's no crying in baseball," Gagne said.

*

The Dodgers dropped out of the bidding for outfielder Carlos Beltran when they refused to surrender setup man Guillermo Mota in what would have been a three-way trade with Oakland Athletics and Kansas City. One day after the Royals traded Beltran to Houston, Tracy hinted the team might like to acquire a starting pitcher before Hideo Nomo's next start.

After the Giants torched Nomo on Thursday, inflating his earned-run average to 7.65 and making him the first nine-game loser in the league, Tracy said Friday there were no better alternatives within the organization.

*

Free-agent third baseman Aaron Boone agreed to terms with the Cleveland Indians on a one-year contract with a vesting option for a second year, and the Angels, according to a source, were not one of the more "aggressive" teams in pursuing Boone.

That equates to a vote of confidence for Chone Figgins, the erstwhile utility player who has gotten the bulk of the playing time at third since Troy Glaus had shoulder surgery May 21.

"We're OK at third -- we're doing fine," General Manager Bill Stoneman said. "When you look at the prospect of taking Figgins out of the lineup, that's not very appealing."

When Glaus went on the disabled list, there was speculation the Angels would pursue Boone, the former Yankee who had knee surgery over the winter but should be ready by late July, or a veteran such as Kansas City's Joe Randa through a trade.

Figgins clearly lacks the power of Glaus, but he has brought a new dimension to the top of the Angel order, a good contact hitter with gap power and blazing speed. He is batting .312 with 12 doubles, a major league-leading 11 triples, 21 runs batted in and 19 stolen bases.

That kind of production, in the eyes of the Angels, has outweighed the growing pains Figgins has experienced at third, where he had never made a major league start until this season.

*

Angel Manager Mike Scioscia juggled his rotation for the weekend, pushing Bartolo Colon up from Tuesday to Sunday in order to keep the right-hander on regular rest. John Lackey, who was scheduled to start Sunday, will move to Tuesday or Wednesday.

The move enables Scioscia to use Lackey and Ramon Ortiz, who threw 5 1/3 innings Thursday against Oakland, in relief this weekend if necessary, and it enables him to put off a decision on Ortiz, who is expected to return to the bullpen now that Aaron Sele will be activated off the disabled list to start today.

Relief pitcher Derrick Turnbow was sent to triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Sele. Closer Troy Percival will be activated Sunday.

*

There was speculation that first baseman Darin Erstad would go on the disabled list after dislocating a knuckle on the middle finger of his right hand Wednesday night, but after sitting out one game, Erstad was back in the lineup Friday. Not only that, but he hit a 433-foot, three-run homer in the fifth inning and had two singles. "I was as surprised as anyone," Scioscia said. "Whatever structural damage was minimal, and that's fortunate."

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