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ANGELS FYI

Starters may get extra time off

September 03, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

DETROIT -- The Angels still rank second in the major leagues with 80 quality starts, but two somewhat shaky turns through the rotation have raised enough concern that Manager Mike Scioscia probably will give several pitchers extra rest this month in hopes of avoiding fatigue.

In 10 games before Tuesday, Angels starters combined for a 5.40 earned-run average, with Joe Saunders (12 earned runs in 6 2/3 innings) and Jon Garland (10 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings) getting the worst of it.

That's almost a run and a half higher than the starters' season ERA of 3.99. With 25 games left and only one day off (Sept. 15) this month, Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher are already mapping out contingency plans.

"Butch and I have turned it inside out, and there are some things we're going to look to do at some point," Scioscia said. "If guys need a break, we're going to give it to them. You can't wait. It's definitely something we're going to pay a lot of attention to."

Pitchers will more likely be pushed back, giving them extra days between starts, than skipped in the rotation.

"I definitely think they'll do something -- we have a couple of guys it could help," ace John Lackey said. "But there's a fine line between getting too much rest and staying sharp. I think it would help earlier this month. At the end, you want to be on your rotation and feeling good going into the playoffs."

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Ortega Highway

If there are rotation alterations, Dustin Moseley and Shane Loux, once he comes off the disabled list, would be options for spot starts. But there is also a sleeper candidate -- Anthony Ortega, a 23-year-old right-hander who is on a fast track to the big leagues.

Ortega, who has a 93-mph fastball, went 9-7 with a 3.73 ERA in 22 starts for double-A Arkansas and 5-0 with a 2.52 ERA in six starts for triple-A Salt Lake.

The right-hander, whom the Atlanta Braves asked for in trade talks for Mark Teixeira in July, is expected to join the Angels after Salt Lake completes the triple-A playoffs.

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Hazy days of summer

The fog lifted for Torii Hunter, who returned to the lineup Tuesday after sitting out Sunday's game because of a sore body.

In seven games last week, the center fielder was hit in the back of the head by a ball sliding into third, hit in the ribs by a pickoff throw at first and crashed into the wall twice, face-first and head-first, to make spectacular catches.

"I was a little stiff, a little hazy, but two days off helped -- I feel pretty good," said Hunter, who had a two-run double, an RBI single and a double in his first three at-bats Tuesday night. "I don't remember a week like that since I played football in high school."

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Short hops

First baseman Mark Teixeira took a Curtis Granderson bad-hop single in the palm of his throwing hand in the first inning but finished the game. Catcher Mike Napoli was hit in the left shoulder blade by a Chris Lambert pitch in the first but finished the game. Both underwent precautionary X-rays after the game, but neither injury is believed to be serious. . . . Chone Figgins is one of four players with at least 30 stolen bases in each of the last five seasons. The others: Ichiro Suzuki, Jimmy Rollins and Juan Pierre.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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ON LATIMES.COM

Joe Saunders makes a slight adjustment against Tigers and it pays off after two rocky starts.

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Magic number

7 Combination of Angels wins and Texas losses that will clinch the West. H: home games

R: road games

*--* AL WEST W L PCT GB H R ANGELS 84 53 613 -- 10 15 Texas 68 72 486 17 1/2 13 9 *--*

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