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ANGELS FYI

No stop sign from Scioscia

October 03, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna and Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writers

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said he did not consider using Reggie Willits to pinch-run for Vladimir Guerrero on Wednesday night after the slugger reached on a one-out single in the eighth inning, with the Angels trailing the Red Sox, 2-1.

Guerrero, slowed in September by an irritated right knee, tried to go from first to third on Torii Hunter's bloop hit over first baseman Kevin Youkilis' head, running through third base coach Dino Ebel's stop sign, and was thrown out by about eight feet.

"Vlad is running well, and once he gets going, he can go from first to third," Scioscia said. "Unfortunately, that was a tougher read than what it looked like from the press box and stands. If Youkilis doesn't get that ball on one hop, Vlad gets to third."

Though Guerrero's gamble backfired, Scioscia, who has stressed aggressive baserunning since he took over as Angels manager in 2000, wouldn't criticize the attempt.

"When you're aggressive, some outs are going to be ugly, but I can't tell you how many times we've swung the momentum our way or won a game because of aggressive baserunning," Scioscia said.

"It happened countless times in the 2002 playoffs. If you go station-to-station, you're not going to beat those guys with 12 hits."

Penciled in

If the decision was up to Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, Josh Beckett would start Game 3 of the series Sunday in Boston.

Beckett, scratched from Wednesday's opener, hasn't pitched since Sept. 22 because of a strained muscle in his right side, an injury that can take weeks to heal. But he threw a 67-pitch bullpen session Thursday that left Farrell impressed. "From the look of his bullpen today, he's ready to go on Sunday," Farrell said.

Manager Terry Francona, who is responsible for naming Sunday's starter, was equally enthusiastic, though he stopped short of a prediction.

"He needs to know going into a start what pitches he has available, what he needs to win," Francona said. "So today was a very productive day. Nothing was cut short, his fastball had some finish to it, he threw all his pitches."

Beckett, the Red Sox's top playoff pitcher with a 6-2 record and 1.73 ERA in 10 postseason appearances, was a bit more modest in his assessment, saying the session went "all right."

Hip check

While Francona is mulling his Game 3 starter, he's also trying to figure out who will play third base. He used Mike Lowell there Wednesday, but Lowell, hobbled by a hip injury, was far from 100%.

"I don't think anything compares to it," said Lowell, who called his injury the most painful he has ever endured. "I've never had to take measures to get ready for a game the way I am now. But I don't regret it."

The injury hinders Lowell's swing, and on the two ground balls he hit in Game 1, he had trouble running to first. He looked better in the field but had trouble making the throw to first.

"I spent a lot of time talking to Mike this morning," Francona said. "I don't know what we're going to do. What he's going through right now, he's going to pay for this later. He knows that. He's beating up his body, and as a manager or a teammate I don't know how you can't respect that. He's the ultimate teammate."

Wednesday night lights

Angels right fielder Gary Matthews Jr. said he lost Jacoby Ellsbury's seventh-inning liner in the lights Wednesday night. The ball sailed over his glove and to the wall for a three-base error, but the Angels escaped the inning unscathed.

"It was a low line drive, and it stayed low," said Matthews, who is expected to be replaced in tonight's lineup by Juan Rivera. "Sometimes when you've got to go into the gap, the ball goes into a bank of lights. Sometimes it's high enough that it will come out of the lights, but this one didn't. It happens."

Hang ten

Justin Speier didn't provide much bullpen relief this season -- he went 2-8 with a 5.03 earned-run average and was left off the Angels' division series roster -- but the veteran right-hander, in an attempt to ease the playoff pressure, provided some comic relief Thursday.

As teammates dressed for practice, Speier walked into the clubhouse wearing a full wetsuit, swim fins and carrying a boogie board, shouting, "Is there practice today? Is there practice?"

Said Scioscia: "Your next set of flippers are going to be made out of cement."

--

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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