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DODGER-ANGEL REPORT

Television Deal Is Reached

April 03, 2006|Bill Shaikin and Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writers

With the first pitch of the season hours away, the Angels and Fox Sports Net agreed Sunday to a contract that will ensure the team television coverage of virtually every game for the next decade.

The contract includes the rights to 150 games, with FSN West carrying 100 starting with today's opener and Channel 13 airing 50.

The financial terms of the contract -- $500 million over 10 years -- have not changed since February, when Angel owner Arte Moreno called the package "a done deal." Moreno broke off talks last Wednesday, over what sources called issues surrounding emerging technologies, but the parties resumed discussions Friday.

For the second time in nine years, FSN paid handsomely to stop the Angels from starting a cable channel.

In 1998, when Disney proposed ESPN West for the Angels and Mighty Ducks, FSN secured 10-year rights to both teams for $140 million.

This time, with the Angels coming off consecutive division championships and setting team records in attendance and television ratings, FSN paid $500 million for the Angels alone. In its initial bid last October, FSN offered about $340 million for 10 years.

Under the old contract, FSN would have paid the Angels $14.5 million for the rights to 50 games this season. Under the new deal, which takes effect immediately, FSN will pay about $32 million for 150 games, with the rights fee increasing annually.

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Lifelong Dodger fan and Anaheim resident Jonathon Rouwenhorst fulfilled two dreams Sunday in his Angel Stadium debut, recording the save for the Angels in the Freeway Series finale after retiring all three batters he faced in the ninth inning

The left-handed reliever, who was born in Bellflower and now lives about 20 minutes from the stadium, left 20 tickets for friends and family, including his father, a rabid Dodger fan.

"My dad loved the Dodgers growing up and I just kind of followed in his footsteps," Rouwenhorst said. "They're all coming around to the Angels now that I'm playing for them."

Rouwenhorst, 26, will open the season at triple-A Salt Lake after going 0-1 with a 6.00 earned-run average in six innings this spring.

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Dodger closer Eric Gagne stayed home Sunday with what Manager Grady Little called a virus. Little said he was unsure whether Gagne would be available for today's opener. Gagne is taking antibiotics for an ear infection diagnosed Friday.

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The Dodgers' opening-day lineup today against Atlanta at Dodger Stadium: shortstop Rafael Furcal, left fielder Jose Cruz Jr., right fielder J.D. Drew, second baseman Jeff Kent, first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, third baseman Bill Mueller, catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., center fielder Jason Repko and pitcher Derek Lowe.

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Third baseman Chone Figgins will lead off today for the Angels in their season opener against Seattle at Safeco Field, followed in the batting order by shortstop Orlando Cabrera, left fielder Garret Anderson, right fielder Vladimir Guerrero, designated hitter Juan Rivera, center fielder Darin Erstad, first baseman Casey Kotchman, catcher Jose Molina and second baseman Adam Kennedy.

Manager Mike Scioscia called Molina the "right guy to go with" behind the plate instead of rookie Jeff Mathis because of a sizzling spring in which Molina hit .372 with one homer and 10 runs batted in.

Scioscia also said that Anderson would precede Guerrero in the batting order against left-handed pitchers such as Jamie Moyer, Seattle's opening-day starter.

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Angel shortstop Brandon Wood, the sixth-ranked prospect by Baseball Prospectus who hit 43 homers last season at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, capped a disappointing spring by going hitless in three at-bats Sunday with two strikeouts. Wood finished the spring hitting .167 with two homers, four RBIs and nine strikeouts in 18 at-bats.... Scioscia said designated hitter Tim Salmon initially could expect to play between two and four days a week "in some capacity" to get at-bats, with additional opportunities contingent upon performance.

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