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ANGEL REPORT

Redeployment to Outfield Is a Possibility for Erstad

August 16, 2005|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

With Garret Anderson fighting a sore back and knee and Steve Finley fighting a cold bat, the Angels have not ruled out the possibility of returning Darin Erstad to the outfield and installing rookie Casey Kotchman as the first baseman.

Erstad has won three Gold Gloves -- in left field in 2000, in center field in 2002 and at first base last year. The Angels moved him to first base last year, in part because they believed his aggressive outfield play made him vulnerable to injury.

"Personally, I don't think that makes a difference," Erstad said. "I can find things to run into at first base just as well as I can in the outfield.

"Whatever sets up best for the team, I'll do. I'll be the batboy for the rest of the year if we're going to win the division and win the World Series."

Said Manager Mike Scioscia: "To move Erstad, it would have to make the whole lineup better. It would be a significant move. You would expect significant results.

"A lot of it hinges on how Garret is. If Garret can play the outfield, we can still get Kotchman's bat in the lineup" at designated hitter.

Anderson did not start Monday and has sat out four of the last six games because of tightness in his back and tendinitis in his left knee. He is listed as day to day, but the Angels plan to use him at DH upon his return, then ease him back into left field as his condition allows.

Finley is hitting .221 overall and .118 this month. The center fielder was benched for the second time in three games Monday, this time against Toronto left-hander Gustavo Chacin.

"This is certainly not a straight platoon thing," Scioscia said, "but at times we might need another right-handed bat."

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Left-hander Joe Saunders, the Angels' top draft pick in 2002, will make his major league debut tonight. He'll start in place of Paul Byrd, who experienced back spasms Monday.

Saunders, 24, was 3-3 with a 3.46 earned-run average at triple-A Salt Lake. He'll start on three days' rest, after pitching eight shutout innings Friday.

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The Angels are unsure whether third baseman Dallas McPherson might return any time soon, after doctors Monday ordered more tests for his back and left hip. McPherson experienced discomfort Friday, 12 days into his minor league rehabilitation assignment. He has been on the disabled list since July 8.... Kelvim Escobar is expected to begin a rehabilitation assignment next week. The Angels want him prepared to start or relieve upon his return, so he figures to make three starts in the minor leagues and build his pitch count before rejoining the team in early September.

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