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Health remains the key

September 20, 2008|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Chone Figgins came back from the doctor Friday with a new diagnosis for his sore right elbow: a deep contusion of the triceps tendon.

"I don't know what it means either," said Figgins, who had both a CT scan and an MRI.

But, he added, flexing his arm, "It hurts when I do this."

So, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia told him, don't do that. At least not for a couple of more days.

"It's just a bruise," said Scioscia, who isn't a doctor but has been forced to play one for much of the summer. Good thing too, because the Angels could probably use a doctor more than a manager these days, beating Texas Rangers, 15-13, Friday despite being without four injured starters from their opening day lineup less than two weeks before their playoff opener.

Yet if that time frame sounds like bad news, it's also good news because it means the Angels have nearly two weeks to get healthy. And Ned Bergert -- who isn't a doctor either but, as the Angels trainer, he's pretty close -- is optimistic that will happen.

"I'm certain I'll be able to give Mike the best 25-man roster for the playoffs he can have," Bergert said.

Figgins, for example, could return to the lineup as early as today as the designated hitter, where he won't have to extend his arm. And he could start at third base early next week in Seattle, where he will.

"There's nothing really damaged," said Figgins, who has played once in the field since taking a Carl Pavano pitch off his elbow Sept. 8. "It just hit me in a bad spot. There's still blood built up in the area. When I extend to throw, I feel it in my elbow."

Howie Kendrick tested his strained left hamstring Friday by sprinting from first to third base four times at nearly full speed, then taking ground balls at second base.

"Let's cross our fingers," said Kendrick, who hasn't played since Aug. 27. "It feels good to be healthy."

Added Scioscia: "He's moving in the right direction."

Kendrick also needs to get his rhythm back in the batter's box -- something that will come only through facing live pitching.

"Timing's timing," he said. "Whether it's major league pitching or minor league pitching. You could probably get that from a high school guy."

Also on the mend from leg injuries are outfielders Juan Rivera and Vladimir Guerrero, neither of whom have played in a week. Both ran and took batting practice Friday and, Scioscia said, "We anticipate they'll be in the lineup [today]. If they aren't, then they should be Sunday."

Or maybe not.

Because while time may be short, it's still on the Angels' side because they won't play another truly meaningful game until their playoff opener next month. Besides, any extra rest a player can get now won't just heal the bumps and bruises that sent them to the sidelines, Bergert suggested. It might lessen the fatigue brought on by a long season as well.

And if that doesn't work? Well, in that case they won't play, Bergert said, regardless of what's at stake.

"It's not a tough call at all," he said. "You have to protect the player."

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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