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Salmon Is Proud of This Spring

ANGEL REPORT

March 31, 2006|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. — Tim Salmon appears to be a lock to make the team, but he's also prepared for the worst. If, by slim chance, he doesn't make the final cut Saturday, Salmon, 37, said he would almost certainly choose retirement over a minor league stint or signing with another team.

"My thinking lately is it's the Angels or bust," said Salmon, who bounced back from shoulder and knee surgery and a 17-month absence to hit .333 with three home runs this spring. "From an audition standpoint, what more could have I done? I might have some rust, but I don't know if it's worth the injury risk to go to triple A."

Nor can Salmon envision playing elsewhere, but not because he has spent his entire 13-year career in Anaheim.

"At this point, with my health, this is an organization that knows what they have with me," Salmon said. "If I go somewhere else, would I be able to bring everyone up to speed? Maybe there's a team that would understand and say, 'Hey, you DH three times a week.' I would look at that. But here, if I tell them I need a day off, no explanation is necessary."

No matter what happens this weekend, Salmon said this has been "without a doubt" his most satisfying spring ever. After months of grueling rehabilitation, Salmon has shown good bat speed and power, and he has run the bases well. And almost every at-bat in Tempe Diablo Stadium has been greeted with a rousing ovation.

Salmon doubled in two at-bats in Thursday's 8-1 exhibition loss to Milwaukee.

"I don't think I can put into a short sentence all the emotions, but I feel really good about what's been accomplished," Salmon said. "It has surpassed anything I could have imagined. I came in trying not to embarrass myself, and I wound up giving them a tough decision to make."

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The strained arch in Garret Anderson's left foot is not all that could prevent him from opening the season with the Angels. Anderson, who missed almost three weeks, played five innings Thursday but finished Cactus League play with only 15 at-bats.

"It's not just my foot -- the fact I haven't played much is a factor," Anderson said.

Anderson fully expects to play the outfield in Monday's season opener in Seattle, but he may need to pace himself by taking more days off than he likes.

"My [health] issues are not really related to wear and tear," Anderson, 33, said, "but as I get older, I'll probably need a few more breathers."

*

John Lackey's spring ended on a bit of a sour note. After throwing four shutout innings, he was rocked for five runs and four hits, including Corey Koskie's three-run homer, in the fifth at Tempe.

Thursday night in San Francisco, starter Jered Weaver gave up just two hits as the Angels won, 1-0, in an exhibition shortened to five innings by rain.

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