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Moreno says he has no regrets

August 09, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

Whether the Angels win the World Series or not, if Mark Teixeira leaves as a free agent this winter, Arte Moreno will have "zero regret" that the team traded promising young first baseman Casey Kotchman to Atlanta for Teixeira on July 29.

"You make a decision, you draw a line and you move forward," the Angels owner said Friday in his first public comments since the trade. "We have a lot of confidence if we can't [re-sign Teixeira], we have people who can play the pos- ition."

Moreno said Kendry Morales' presence at triple-A Salt Lake is what persuaded him to approve the deal despite his strong aversion to trades for "rental players," those who will become free agents after the current season.

Morales, a switch-hitting first baseman, has been limited to 64 games because of an oblique muscle injury but is batting .330 with 12 home runs and 52 runs batted in.

"Casey is a home-grown player, his father [Tom, a minor league manager and scout] works in the organization, so it was very emotional for me," Moreno said.

"But our people felt that if we weren't able to work out a deal [for Teixeira] that Kendry was very close to big league-ready. He has power from both sides, and his defense is improving."

Deep pockets

Teixeira, who will command a sizable contract, is one of many compelling off-season issues facing the Angels. Francisco Rodriguez, Garret Anderson and Jon Garland will be free agents, and the team must decide whether to exercise Vladimir Guerrero's option.

Their payroll is now $123 million, fifth highest in baseball. How much higher Moreno is willing to go could dictate whether Teixeira returns.

"You can't pay everybody $18 million, $20 million a year," Moreno said. "We have to look at how everything fits. Within reason, we can be in the top five or six payrolls in the game. . . .

"You're always moving things around on the board. Who is going to be where and when? What is it going to cost you? Economics do play a part. We don't have an unlimited amount of cash."

There's a catch

A month after going on the disabled list because of a right shoulder irritation, catcher Mike Napoli was activated Friday after a six-game minor league stint, and Ryan Budde was optioned back to Salt Lake.

With Jeff Mathis starting all but one game behind the plate during Napoli's absence, the Angels went 18-8. Napoli and Mathis split the position for 2 1/2 months, but Mathis has emerged as a starter and will continue to gain the bulk of the playing time, though Manager Mike Scioscia said Napoli would start today.

"Jeff has been catching winners, getting timely hits," Napoli said. "It's going to make me want to perform to the ability I can. It's not a bad thing. It's going to make me step up my game."

Cathedral West

Right-hander Dan Giese, who will start today for the Yankees, was born in Anaheim, grew up in Riverside and was a huge fan of the 1980s Angels team that featured the likes of Doug DeCinces, Bobby Grich and Reggie Jackson.

"I've never even been on the field," Giese said before batting practice Friday. "This is my Yankee Stadium."

Izturis returns

Angels shortstop Maicer Izturis, sidelined since Sunday because of a sprained left thumb, took batting practice Friday, and Scioscia said he would start today.


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