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Champagne under wraps

September 09, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The one-game-at-a-time attitude preached by Angels Manager Mike Scioscia has not been adopted only by the players. It's an organizational thing.

Consider this: There are hundreds of bottles of champagne somewhere in the clubhouse, out of sight of the players and awaiting the Angels' imminent clinching of the American League West championship, and yet clubhouse manager Ken Higdon would not even entertain the question of exactly where those bottles might be stashed.

"We don't talk about it," Higdon said. "We don't know about it."

For the Angels, the division title will be their third in four years. For first baseman Mark Teixeira, the playoff berth will be the first of his six-year career, not that he'll be the guy running up to the television camera and spraying champagne into the lens.

"I'm not a crazy guy," he said. "I'll enjoy it, but you won't see me bouncing off walls."

Teixeira understands why the Angels traded for him -- to win in the last week of October, not the second week of September.

"The division championship is going to be great," he said. "But there will still be a lot of work to be done."

New K-Rod suitor?

The bidding war for Francisco Rodriguez might have started unofficially on Monday, when the New York Mets announced that closer Billy Wagner would undergo elbow surgery and sit out much if not all of next season.

Rodriguez, on the verge of setting the major league saves record, could be pursued by the Mets, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, Dodgers and Angels.

Scioscia said Rodriguez would be in great demand even if the Mets -- and their $138-million payroll -- had a physically sound Wagner for next season.

"I don't think Frankie is a talent that is contingent on someone else getting injured," Scioscia said. "There will be a lot of teams interested. We'll certainly be one of them."

Olympic fever

Neither infielder Matt Brown nor pitcher Kevin Jepsen brought his bronze medal with him as the Angels' September callups reported Monday, but Jepsen said enough teammates had asked to see the medal that he asked his girlfriend to pack it when she visits from Arizona this weekend.

Brown and Jepsen played in the Beijing Olympics for Team USA.

Each player called the experience thrilling, but neither one tried an authentic Chinese meal.

"I had McDonald's a lot," Brown said.

"I was already kind of sick while I was over there," he added. "I didn't want to jeopardize anything."

Short hops

The Angels scratched Jered Weaver from tonight's start, with the two cut fingers on his pitching hand still tender. They moved Ervin Santana up one day -- he'll pitch on normal rest -- and said they had not determined who will start Wednesday afternoon. . . . Kevin Jepsen, who was pitching in Class A last year and for the U.S. Olympic team last month, made his major league debut in the eighth inning and retired Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez in order. . . . Infielder Freddy Sandoval also made his major league debut, as a pinch-hitter. He flied out. . . . Scioscia said infielders Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick each completed running drills Monday as part of rehabilitation.


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