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Izturis has his season stop short

August 16, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

CLEVELAND -- Into the Angels' sunshine-filled season, a little rain fell Friday.

Shortstop Maicer Izturis, who aggravated a left thumb injury diving for a grounder Wednesday night against Seattle, was diagnosed with a torn ligament and will undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday, putting at least a small damper on the Angels' World Series hopes.

Izturis first injured the thumb diving for a grounder in Yankee Stadium on Aug. 1 and sat out eight of the next 10 games.

"It's a tough loss," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We feel terrible for Izzy because we know how much a part of the club he was. It's going to put more weight on others to carry the load."

Erick Aybar, who has split time with Izturis, is now the every-day shortstop, and Sean Rodriguez will back him up.

Brandon Wood is playing shortstop at triple-A Salt Lake and could be a candidate for a reserve role at some point.

The injury to Izturis, who is expected to be ready for spring training next year, is eerily similar to the torn left thumb ligament suffered by former Angels shortstop Gary DiSarcina in 1995.

The Angels had an 11-game lead in the American League West when DiSarcina, who hit .307 and was a key defender on that club, was hurt Aug. 3.

The Angels then suffered one of baseball's worst collapses, blowing the lead and losing to Seattle in a one-game playoff to determine the division winner.

The Angels, who have a 15 1/2 -game division lead, are deep enough to absorb the loss of their shortstop this season. Aybar is a slick-fielding defender, and the addition of Mark Teixeira has fortified the offense.

But they are a better team with Izturis, who was batting .269 with 14 doubles, 37 runs batted in, 44 runs, 26 walks and a .329 on-base percentage and seemed a natural fit for the second spot in the order because of his ability to work counts.

Scioscia said Aybar, who is batting .286 with a .324 on-base percentage but has drawn only 11 walks, will remain in the two-hole for now. If the switch-hitter falters, Scioscia will consider moving Howie Kendrick from the seventh to second spot.

Of bigger concern would be an injury to Aybar. Then, the Angels would have to rely on two young, untested shortstops or look to trade for a dependable defender such as Toronto's John McDonald.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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