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ANGELS REPORT

McPherson Sits, Wonders

September 21, 2006|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The legitimate power threat, the player with the potential to hit 35 home runs a year, is right there on the Angels' bench, all bound up, unable to unleash himself.

That's what makes Dallas McPherson's injuries so frustrating, to both the 25-year-old third baseman and the Angels. If he hadn't been hampered by a herniated disk in his lower back, which, along with a hip injury, limited him to 61 big league games last season and 37 games this season, McPherson might have made a difference.

He hit 40 home runs in the minor leagues in 2004, and the Angels let Troy Glaus leave as a free agent to clear third base for McPherson in 2005. But the Angels haven't been able to rely on McPherson for two years, it appears they've lost confidence in him, and McPherson can't really blame them.

"I'd like to think I have the same opportunity as everyone else in the room to win the job next spring, but I don't know," said McPherson, who has decided to bypass surgery this winter in favor of a rehabilitation program to strengthen his lower back.

"There are a lot of guys who can play third here and some free agents out there. I hope they give me another chance to take the job and run with it, but it's not a perfect world."

The Angels have targeted third base as one of the positions they'd like to upgrade this winter, and if Aramis Ramirez opts out of his contract to become a free agent, the Angels are expected to make a strong bid for the Chicago Cubs slugger.

They could also pursue a trade for a center fielder such as Vernon Wells or Torii Hunter and move outfielder Chone Figgins back to third, and there has been some speculation the Angels will make a run at New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

McPherson also could be traded -- the San Diego Padres expressed interest in him last spring -- but "I don't necessarily think I'd be better off somewhere else," he said. "This is the team I came up with, the team that knows me and my history. If I had a choice to play somewhere, it would be here."

Asked if McPherson still fit into the Angels' plans, General Manager Bill Stoneman said, "Yes ... if he's healthy."

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Pitchers Justin Verlander (Detroit), Francisco Liriano (Minnesota) and Jonathan Papelbon (Boston) are the leading candidates for American League rookie of the year, but Manager Mike Scioscia believes Jered Weaver, who will take an 11-2 record and 2.15 earned-run average into Friday's start in Oakland, deserves strong consideration.

"It's been incredible what Jered has done," Scioscia said. "I haven't researched it enough to know how he compares to some guys, but for what he's done, and how he's been instrumental in our club getting back into the race, he has to be at or near the top of the list."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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