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ANGEL-DODGER REPORT

It Appears Salmon Has Made the Team

April 01, 2006|Ben Bolch and Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writers

Just in time for what could be his first appearance at Angel Stadium since Aug. 23, 2004, the Angels are expected to announce today that fan favorite Tim Salmon has made the team.

Salmon, who has excelled this spring in his comeback from knee and shoulder surgeries, is expected to serve as a designated hitter and backup outfielder.

"Tim has put himself in a position where he's passed tests every day," Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said, "whether it's coming in here after playing the outfield and feeling good to taking a [batting practice] and getting four or five at-bats and still being able to bounce back the next day."

Scioscia said Salmon's ability to display adequate bat speed was more important than his .346 batting average and four homers. He homered as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning Friday night against the Dodgers.

What might be most impressive is the work ethic displayed by the 37-year-old Salmon, who has spent all his 13-year career with the Angels.

"When we saw Tim in September working out, getting into shape to come back from the surgeries, there was a mountain of work we could see was needed for him to even be put in the position to help us," Scioscia said. "He's obviously put it in. He's been incredible."

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Eric Gagne reported to Dodger Stadium on Friday complaining of pain -- not in his right arm, but in his left ear and on the left side of his neck. Trainers initially feared a ruptured eardrum and sent him to a specialist, Dr. John Rehn.

Rehn diagnosed an infection of the inner ear and outer ear and prescribed antibiotics.

"My ears were nasty," Gagne said upon his return to the ballpark. "I thought they were dirty, that's all."

Gagne pitched one inning Friday, as scheduled.

The infection is not expected to affect Gagne's readiness for Monday's opener. However, the Dodgers have a handy Plan B in Danys Baez, who saved 41 games last season for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

"We were able to insure ourselves with some pretty good insurance," Manager Grady Little said, "if Eric didn't recover from his past arm problems or, in this case, something goofy."

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If the Dodgers start the season 7-7, Little said, "I'll be the happiest guy in the world."

What's so happy about a .500 start?

"We've had a bunch of people thrown together from a lot of different places," he said. "They were strangers on the same ballclub, from the general manager to the manager to a bunch of coaches and a roomful of players. I think it takes a certain length of time for these things to jell.

"The foundation has been laid, but nothing is better than the experience of the season. You develop a comfort level."

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Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal (back spasms) told Little he wants to play Sunday. Little said he expects Furcal, center fielder Kenny Lofton (leg cramps), left fielder Jose Cruz Jr. (concussion, back stiffness) and reliever Lance Carter (virus) to be available for Monday's opener.... Pitcher Aaron Sele, 35, said he would consult with his family this weekend before deciding whether to accept assignment to triple-A Las Vegas. The family owns homes in Newport Beach and Washington state.... The Dodgers agreed to lease a part of their Dominican Republic academy to the Devil Rays. The Dodgers said they can share facilities without affecting their use of the complex.

The Angels and FSN revived discussions Friday on a proposed 10-year television contract. The Angels halted talks on Wednesday and spoke with Channels 5, 13 and 56 on Thursday, but the team wants to revisit the FSN deal before proceeding with the other stations.... Scioscia said left fielder Garret Anderson, recovering from a strained arch in his left foot that has severely limited his number of spring training at-bats, should be able to play all nine innings Monday when the Angels open the season in Seattle.

The Angels' final bullpen spot is expected to go to Esteban Yan over Kevin Gregg, who has an option remaining that would allow the team to send him to triple-A Salt Lake without losing his rights. Yan, a hard-throwing right-hander, had thrown 10 2/3 scoreless innings this spring before Friday.

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