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Arredondo doesn't waste chance

September 14, 2008|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

It's been a season of pleasant surprises for the division-champion Angels, but perhaps none has been more pleasant or more surprising than the performance of rookie Jose Arredondo, who leads all major league relievers with eight wins.

Arredondo wasn't even in the team's plans coming out of spring training but since being called up in mid-May, the former shortstop is 8-2 with a 1.36 earned-run average.

"There was an opportunity here and he's just taken off and run with it," Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager, Arredondo hit only .250 without a home run in three minor league seasons before switching to the mound five years ago. He moved to the bullpen full time last summer, saving 10 games and holding opponents to a .181 batting average in 23 games at double-A Arkansas. And after saving 10 games in 15 appearances at triple-A Salt Lake this spring, he was given a spot in the Angels bullpen.

"They've given me an opportunity and I've taken advantage," said Arredondo, 24, echoing his manager.

But the hard-throwing right-hander, who has failed to give up a run in 39 of his 46 big league appearances, also credited closer Francisco Rodriguez for much of his success.

"He's a tremendous person," Arredondo said. "He's helped me a lot. In every way. As an experienced veteran, we'll be talking during the game and he'll say 'this guy doesn't like this pitch' or 'pitch him this way.' It's been a tremendous help."

Minor leaguer suspended

Double-A pitcher Ryan Aldridge will have to sit out the first 50 games next season after testing positive for amphetamines.

A 25-year-old right-hander selected in the 17th round of the 2004 draft, Aldridge was 2-0 with five saves and a 3.18 ERA in 17 appearances for Arkansas. He also made 10 scoreless appearances for Rancho Cucamonga of the Class-A California League this summer.

"We're not making a decision on his future based on this incident," General Manager Tony Reagins said. "We're disappointed. The kid is remorseful, wants to move forward. We're going to get him the resources that he needs to get better. And we'll go from there."

Aldridge is the 64th minor leaguer, and second from the Angels organization, to be suspended this year under baseball's drug-testing program. The other was right-hander Tommy Mendoza, who tested positive for amphetamines in July while pitching for Rancho Cucamonga.

"The commissioner has been very public as to [his] stance on this type of violation," Reagins said. "So when it happens you just shake your head and wonder why. Because, obviously, it's very, very public."

Riding out the storm

Hurricane Ike, the storm that pounded the Gulf coast of Texas on Saturday, dealt Dallas little more than a glancing blow, so the family of Angels outfielder Torii Hunter opened their suburban Dallas homes to refugees of the storm.

Hunter said he and his three brothers, who live near one another, have taken in at least five cousins who fled Houston earlier this weekend.


Chone Figgins, who sat out four consecutive starts because of a sore elbow, returned to the starting lineup as the designated hitter Saturday but it may be a while before he plays in the field again. Figgins took ground balls at third base during batting practice and had a tough time making the throw across the diamond to first. . . . Vladimir Guerrero, who came out of Friday's game because of continuing irritation in his right knee, probably won't play again until the middle of the week. "If this were the seventh game of the World Series, I think Vlad would be out there playing," Scioscia said. "But right now we still have a lot of baseball left to risk any major setbacks for any of our guys. It's really just a little inflammation that's going be in there from time to time."


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