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Park left his mark on this series

ANGELS REPORT

May 16, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

Chan Ho Park returns to the Freeway Series this weekend, but he won't have Tim Belcher to kick around.

The rivalry between the Angels and Dodgers is relatively tame. But, after a decade of interleague play, one play sticks out: Park's kicking Belcher during an on-field fracas in 1999.

"I get asked about it all the time," Belcher said Thursday. "They still show it on all the crazy shows where they replay athletes who snap."

Park had put down a sacrifice bunt. Belcher, then playing for the Angels, fielded the ball and tagged Park out. Park took exception to what he said was an unnecessarily hard tag, the two exchanged words, and then Park hit Belcher in the face with a forearm, then executed the flying kick.

The incident prompted a classic quote from Gary DiSarcina, then the Angels' shortstop: "The last time I saw someone kick somebody in a fight, it was my little sister kicking my brother for taking her Barbie doll."

Park was suspended for seven games and did not appeal. Yet Belcher did not emerge unscathed. The umpires decided to eject Park but not Belcher, and one inning later Belcher gave up the deciding grand slam to Devon White.

"In hindsight," Belcher said, "I wish I hadn't argued so vigorously to stay in the game."

Belcher, who pitched for the Dodgers' 1988 World Series championship team and concluded his career with the Angels in 2000, now scouts for the Cleveland Indians. Park rejoined the Dodgers this year, for the first time since 2001, and makes his first start of the season Saturday in Anaheim.

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Vladimir Guerrero usually wears a blue T-shirt with the Superman logo beneath the uniform. So why was Juan Rivera wearing one of those shirts Thursday?

"Super amigo," Rivera said.

Turns out Guerrero was kind enough to buy a batch of those shirts for all the Latin players on the team.

"And Napoli," Rivera said.

That would be Michael Anthony Napoli of Hollywood, Fla.

Napoli had heard Guerrero talking about ordering the shirts and said he wanted one too. Guerrero was happy to add him to the shopping list.

"I told him I went down and played in the Dominican," Napoli said with a smile. "So I qualify."

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Gary Matthews Jr., batting .217 overall and .138 since April 24, did not start. He took extra batting practice before the game with hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, and Manager Mike Scioscia said he planned to start Matthews tonight.

"He's been grinding it," Scioscia said. "It's good for him to get a work day."

Matthews had six hits in 10 at-bats against White Sox starter Javier Vazquez.

"He has good numbers against a lot of pitchers in this stretch where he's been struggling," Scioscia said.

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The Angels are hopeful that Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick can return from hamstring injuries next week. . . . Pitcher Dustin Moseley (forearm tightness) is scheduled for a rehabilitation start Sunday with triple-A Salt Lake, after which the Angels will decide whether to activate him. . . . The Angels celebrated '70s Night by wearing 1971 uniforms, with lower-case lettering on the jersey and a lower-case "a" and yellow halo on the cap. "Sweet," Scot Shields said. "I'd like to wear these a few times a year."

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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