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ANGELS FYI

It may be a turning point for Matthews

May 25, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Maybe this will be the game Gary Matthews Jr. looks back on as the one that breaks him out of a season-long funk.

Matthews ended an 0-for-12 skid with a double and a single and made two superb plays in right field, cutting down Nick Swisher, who attempted to turn a fifth-inning single into a double, and diving to catch Jermaine Dye's liner in the gap to end a 2-0 victory.

Though he is still batting a sluggish .219 with five homers, 25 runs batted in and a team-high 46 strikeouts, Matthews, in the second year of a five-year, $50-million deal, could finally leave the park feeling good about himself.

"You're going to go through some rough patches, and obviously this is my rough patch, but in spite of that, I've still found a way to contribute and do some things well," he said. "I just want to do my part, do what they brought me here to do, and when I don't get it done, I take it personally, I take it hard.

"It's easy to say hey, turn the page, but that's not how I am, it's not how I operate. If I don't get it done, it hurts. It's been a challenge for two months. I keep saying it will make the rest of the season a lot sweeter when I turn it around."

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Another day, another injury for the Angels. This time it was outfielder Reggie Willits, who suffered a deep gash on the middle finger of his right hand while attempting to break up a double play and could wind up on the disabled list.

Willits entered as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning, and as he slid into second on Casey Kotchman's grounder, he was spiked by White Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who landed on Willits' hand.

Willits needed several stitches to close the cut and underwent X-rays Saturday evening.

"It's possible he may go on the DL," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He got stepped on pretty good."

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Howie Kendrick, who aborted his first rehabilitation assignment after playing two games for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga in early May, will work out at Salt Lake today and is expected to begin playing for the triple-A Bees by the middle of the week.

Kendrick has been on the DL since April 14 because of a left hamstring strain. He aggravated the injury when, after stealing second in a May 6 game, he popped up and headed for third when the catcher's throw went into center field.

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Vladimir Guerrero hit John Danks' first pitch -- it appeared to be a cut fastball -- of the sixth inning for his seventh homer of the season and third in four days, but the Angels slugger wasn't looking for a particular pitch.

"I don't go out there looking for pitches," he said through an interpreter. "I don't even know what I hit. I just know it was in the strike zone."

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Leadoff batter Chone Figgins sat out his third straight game because of soreness in his right leg. "He's available in an emergency, but we don't want to push it," Scioscia said. "We'll see how it feels [today]." . . . Brandon Wood got his first major league start at shortstop.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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