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Erstad Forgets Last Year

ANGEL REPORT

May 07, 2004|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

When Chone Figgins led off Sunday's game in Minnesota with a triple, the last thing on Darin Erstad's mind as he stepped to the plate was getting a hit. With the infield back, all Erstad wanted was to tap a grounder that would score the speedy Figgins and give the Angels an early lead.

What followed was as predictable as Vladimir Guerrero swinging at the first pitch: Erstad grounded out to first and Figgins scored an important run in an eventual 3-1 Angel victory.

It is this unselfish approach that has helped Erstad accumulate 20 runs batted in -- fourth most on the team -- and surpass his RBI total (17) for his injury-plagued, 67-game season in 2003.

"I don't compare years," Erstad said, "but in my book, last year doesn't count."

Erstad is recovered from the hamstring injuries that sent him to the disabled list twice last season, he has made a seamless transition from center field to first base, and while he's not among the American League leaders in batting, he has a productive .268 average.

He has done a good job advancing runners in the No. 2 hole, he has scored 19 runs, and four of his RBIs have come on outs. Asked if he'd rather hit .220 with 100 RBIs or .320 with 50 RBIs, he didn't even need a moment to contemplate the answer.

"There's not even a question," said Erstad, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a fifth-inning single Thursday night. "Hitting .220 with 100 RBIs is productive. There are benchmarks, certain statistics you want to get to, but what it comes down to is RBIs and scoring runs."

*

Reliever Brendan Donnelly threw two scoreless innings, giving up two hits, striking out four and walking one, in his second minor league rehabilitation game for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday night.

Donnelly, out since March 9 because of complications stemming from a broken nose, threw 42 pitches, 28 for strikes, and looked strong while striking out the side in the seventh inning against Lancaster.

He is scheduled for another two-inning Class-A stint Sunday, after which the Angels will determine whether to activate him for the trip to New York and Baltimore.

*

Angel center fielder Garret Anderson, in an effort to determine the source of the neck, upper-back and shoulder pain that sent him to the disabled list on April 22, had a consultation Thursday with Dr. David Brown, a rheumatologist, and he will undergo further tests today, including one for rheumatoid arthritis

Though treatable with medication, rheumatoid arthritis -- or RA -- is typically chronic and can affect many joints, causing pain, stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling.

"It doesn't seem like there's been much improvement, but I don't know that his situation has deteriorated," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said.

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