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The bottom half

June 08, 2008|Bill Shaikin

Dodgers: In their only previous visit to Comerica Park, the Dodgers dragged along the worst offense in baseball. This was in 2003, the year the Dodgers averaged 3.5 runs a game. They played three games in Detroit and scored three runs in each, batting .194 for the series, with no home runs in 103 at-bats. The starters included Ron Coomer, Mike Kinkade and Fred McGriff. Yet the Dodgers swept the series, with Eric Gagne earning the save in each game, for that was the year the Tigers lost 119 games. The Dodgers' offense is billed as much better this season, yet how many runs a game have the Dodgers averaged in the absence of injured shortstop Rafael Furcal? That would be, ahem, 3.3.

Dodgers vs. Detroit Tigers, Friday through next Sunday at Comerica Park, Detroit.

Angels: You can't be picky with that first major league managerial job, especially when you never played in the major leagues. So Joe Maddon, who played and coached in the Angels' organization for 31 years, jumped at the chance to replace the renowned Lou Piniella as manager in Tampa Bay. You wondered whether Maddon, a good baseball man and an even better man, would lose 200 games in two years and shuffle back to coaching. The Rays never have won more than 70 games, but Maddon has this year's Rays challenging the Angels and Boston Red Sox for the best record in the American League. The Rays have lost eight consecutive games in Anaheim.

The week ahead

Angels vs. Tampa Bay Rays, Monday through Wednesday at Angel Stadium.

Elsewhere: It was one year ago Monday that Roger Clemens made his season debut for the New York Yankees. The season did not go well, and he limped out of New York with a 6-6 record and a sore hamstring. The winter was a disaster, with Brian McNamee, George Mitchell, Henry Waxman and Mindy McCready turning Clemens' image from legend to cheater and sinner. We haven't heard much from Clemens lately, but you wonder if he'll show up this weekend, when his last two employers face off in his hometown. He and Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada remain under FBI perjury investigations. And, speaking of disasters, the Astros play in the ballpark formerly known as Enron Field. Good times all around.

New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros, Friday through next Sunday at Minute Maid Park, Houston.

Minor leaguers of the week

Angels: Hank Conger, c

He's back. Conger, the Angels' top draft choice in 2006, made his season debut at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga last week, after sitting out the first two months of the season while rehabilitating a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The Angels plan to limit him to designated hitter for now and ease his shoulder into throwing form. Conger, 20, batted .290 with 11 home runs in 84 games at Class-A Cedar Rapids last season. In his first 19 at-bats at Rancho Cucamonga, he had four hits -- two doubles, one home run, one single.

Dodgers: Scott Elbert, lhp

He's back. Elbert, the Dodgers' top draft choice in 2004, made his season debut at double-A Jacksonville last week, after sitting out the first two months to complete a yearlong rehabilitation from arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. In 2006, Elbert went 6-4 with a 3.61 ERA at Jacksonville, striking out 76 in 62 innings and holding opponents to a .193 average. Elbert, 22, will be used in relief for now and he pitched one scoreless inning in his return last Wednesday.

-- Bill Shaikin

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