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Many can play numbers game

September 13, 2008|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

Francisco Rodriguez isn't the only Angel putting up big numbers as the regular season winds to a close.

Garret Anderson extended his franchise record for games played to 2,001 Friday, and first baseman Mark Teixeira needs one more homer to reach 200 for his career and 30 in a season for the fifth consecutive year. And Vladimir Guerrero, who left Friday's game after two at-bats because of an irritated right knee, is batting .298 with 24 home runs, leaving him within striking distance of his 12th consecutive .300 season and his 11th straight season with at least 25 homers.

"As a young player starts to make footprints in this league, the challenges change," said Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, a two-time All-Star during a 15-year big league career. "There are some players that have come up and had just an incredible first season and had a good second season. The challenge now becomes consistency, to be able to repeat. These guys have been a model of consistency.

"Vlad's production has been off the charts. Garret has been able to just methodically come out and have his talent play on a major league field in a big way. Game after game, season after season."

Atlanta's Chipper Jones is the only active player other than Anderson to play 2,000 games with one team, although that was news to the Angels outfielder.

"I saw it on the [score]board," said Anderson, 36, who also holds franchise records in seven other offensive categories, including hits, runs and runs batted in.

Jewelry collector

Rookie reliever Kevin Jepsen also has a chance to make history this fall by becoming the first player to win an Olympic medal and a World Series ring in the same year.

He took care of the medal last month, making four scoreless appearances and earning a save to help the U.S. win a bronze in Beijing.

But to have a shot at the ring he'll first have to make the Angels' playoff roster. And though Jepsen hadn't pitched in the majors before Wednesday, Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher say he has a chance of sticking with the team in October.

"His arm is live. And it's a great tribute to how hard that kid worked to get to where he is," Scioscia said. "[The Olympics] are a great experience. We were happy that he did it. That experience of playing in games like that is big for a player's growth and to understand it's still a baseball game.

"Some guys put it in a different perspective and maybe can't bring their talent onto the field."

However, Jepsen, whose girlfriend brought his Olympic medal from Arizona to Anaheim to show off to teammates Friday, said he's not thinking about history.

"Right now you guys probably think about that a lot more than I do," he said. "I'm just happy to get a medal and I'm happy to be here. Whatever happens, I have no control over that."

Angels infielder Matt Brown also played for Team USA in Beijing, but he's a longshot to make the playoff roster.

It's a small world

The Mariners' lineup Friday featured players from seven nations, underscoring just how global baseball has become. In fact only two of Seattle's 10 starters, left fielder Raul Ibanez and DH Matt Tuiasosopo, were born in the U.S. -- and both of them were born into immigrant families, with Ibanez's parents having fled Cuba for New York and Tuiasosopo's family having come from Samoa.

Seattle also started two Japanese, two Venezuelans, a Dominican, a Cuban, an Australian and a player from Curacao. Eight of the 10 Angels starters, meanwhile, were born in the U.S.


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