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Shaking Injuries Is One of McPherson's Key Goals

ANGEL REPORT

March 12, 2006|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. — He probably can't win a spot in the starting lineup. But, if he can win a job in the major leagues and convince the Angels he is not unduly prone to injury, this spring will be a successful one for Dallas McPherson.

He was the starting third baseman when the Angels broke camp last year, then broke down with hip and back injuries. After six at-bats this spring -- four of them strikeouts -- he is sidelined because of a strained muscle on his right side.

"It's frustrating it keeps happening," McPherson said. "Eventually, it's going to stay away. I'm not going to stay hurt forever."

McPherson, 25, called his latest injury "a three-to-four day setback" and said his hip and back are fine. "I don't feel like I'm hurting myself a whole lot," he said. "It just happens to be on the back side of the other injuries, or we wouldn't even be talking about it."

With Chone Figgins expected to start at third base, McPherson could split time with Juan Rivera at designated hitter. The Angels haven't ruled out sending him to triple-A Salt Lake to play every day at third base, but his bat alone could win him a bench job. In 2004, he hit 40 home runs in the minor leagues and three more in the majors.

"His challenge right now is to get healthy and get himself at the top of his game," Manager Mike Scioscia said.

"That would give us a big boost. He would give us an element of power. That's something our offense could use."

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Reliever Kevin Gregg posted a 5.04 earned-run average last season. He has given up nine hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings this spring. And, upon further review, the Angels can send him to the minor leagues risk-free.

For a guy fighting Esteban Yan and Jason Bulger for the last spot in the bullpen, that's a bad combination.

"It gives them ... an option, but it doesn't really change things for me, because I still have to do my job and pitch," Gregg said. "They're going to put the best team on the field, and my ultimate goal is to be on the team."

Gregg said last week he was out of options, which would mean the Angels would have to allow every other team to claim him before they could send him to the minors. He has one option left. He believed the Oakland Athletics had used his first option to send him to the minors six years ago, but they removed him from the 40-man roster entirely.

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The rain that pelted Los Angeles on Friday arrived here Saturday, ending a record-setting dry spell of 143 days and forcing cancellation of the Angels' game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Jeff Weaver, who was scheduled to start Saturday, will start today in a split-squad game against the Oakland Athletics, weather permitting. Jered Weaver will start the other split-squad game, against the Chicago White Sox in Tucson.

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Angel owner Arte Moreno ranks as the fourth-richest person in his home state of Arizona, according to the current issue of Forbes. The magazine lists his net worth at $1.2 billion. ... John Lackey reported soreness but "nothing out of the ordinary" the day after his first spring start, delayed because of stiffness in his right shoulder. He said he would continue treatment for another week to strengthen the shoulder and would do preventive exercises twice a week instead of once. ... Utility player Robb Quinlan said his left leg was still swollen and painful a day after fouling a ball off his shin. Scioscia said outfielder Nick Gorneault would sit out "a couple days" after bruising his left wrist Friday.

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\o7Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.

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