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ANGELS REPORT

Donnelly Would Like to Come Back

September 01, 2006|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

DETROIT — Brendan Donnelly wished he was a goner in April, when the frustrated reliever asked to be traded, and he looked like a goner in July, when he went through a stretch in which he gave up 11 earned runs in four innings of five injury-plagued games.

But the veteran right-hander put together an August that, if followed by a productive September, could bring Donnelly to a place he wasn't expecting to be in 2007: Anaheim.

"If you asked me when I had my upper-back and neck problems what the odds of me coming back here next season were, I would have said zero," said Donnelly, 35. "But things have changed."

Since July 30, Donnelly has given up five earned runs in 14 2/3 innings for a 3.07 earned-run average. His only pockmarks were a four-run outing in Yankee Stadium on Aug. 14 and a four-game suspension for hitting a batter on Aug. 16, a penalty he could serve by dropping his appeal between now and Sept. 15.

Donnelly's fastball looks crisp, his breaking ball has more life and his command has been good, with 11 strikeouts and four walks during the stretch. Weekly trips to a chiropractor have freed Donnelly of the pain that sent his mechanics askew in July.

As August turns to September, Donnelly, who will enter his second winter of arbitration eligibility after making $950,000 this season, not only has a good chance of being retained, he wants to stay.

"I feel good about things here right now," Donnelly said. "When you take my salary, what I can bring to the bullpen, I think I'm still a fit here."

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Third-round pick Russell Moldenhauer, a high school outfielder from Texas, stunned the Angels by spurning their offer of a $425,000 bonus and $56,000 for college to enroll at the University of Texas on Thursday.

"I know it doesn't sound right, but we offered him everything he asked for, and he said no," Angels scouting director Eddie Bane said. "That's the first time that's ever happened to me."The Angels had extensive pre-draft discussions with the player's family and were confident they would sign him.

"We were assured before the draft that a certain price would get a deal done, and it didn't," Bane said. "I wish we would have known that before the draft."

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With teams allowed to expand rosters today, first baseman Darin Erstad and outfielder Curtis Pride will be activated from rehabilitation assignments, and reliever Chris Bootcheck and catcher Jeff Mathis will be recalled from triple-A Salt Lake.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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