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Saunders finally passes

September 25, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE -- The kidney stone that caused Joe Saunders so much pain for five days passed Wednesday morning, the ordeal leaving the left-hander eight pounds lighter but extremely relieved.

"It gives you an appreciation for the every-day things in life," Saunders said, "like being able to eat like a human being and being able to function normally."

When Saunders was stricken Friday in Texas, he feared he had appendicitis, which would have knocked him out of the playoffs.

"It felt like someone stabbed me in the back, punched me in the gut and kicked me in the groin, all at the same time," Saunders said. "It was like someone stuck a knife in the right side of my lower back. It was like a bad cramp that wouldn't go away."

A CT scan revealed a stone of about two millimeters in diameter. Saunders, who was scratched from Tuesday's start against Seattle, was placed on an all-liquids diet in order to flush the stone.

By the time he finally did, his weight was down to 219 pounds. The first thing he ate Wednesday morning was a breakfast of eggs Benedict.

"I have some eating to catch up on," said Saunders, who rejoined the team Wednesday.

Saunders, the probable Game 3 starter in the American League division series, played catch Wednesday and will throw twice in the bullpen in preparation for Sunday's start against Texas in the regular-season finale.

"I don't think it should affect me [for the playoffs]," Saunders said. "I feel strong. It's just a matter of putting some weight on."

Power surge

Mike Napoli, who shares catching duties with Jeff Mathis, entered Wednesday's game with 19 home runs in 216 at-bats, a homer-per-11.4-at-bat pace that, over a full season of 500 at-bats, would project to 44 homers.

"You always wonder," Napoli said, when asked if he's thought what kind of numbers he could put up if he played every day. "But it's something you can't control. Jeff and I split time. We've both gotten us this far. It's the way it is."

And it's the way it will remain, regardless of Napoli's power and Mathis' .189 average, nine homers and 42 runs batted in.

Napoli, who is batting .250, has a better defensive rapport with John Lackey and will probably catch the Angels ace in the playoffs. Mathis works better with Ervin Santana and will catch the right-hander in the playoffs. Napoli probably will catch Saunders.

"The thing that's going to influence the outcome of the game is the 140-150 pitches your team throws when you're on the mound," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "If you have confidence that a pitcher and catcher working together will save you a run and a half that game, you have to weigh that against the offensive side."

Good to go

Juan Rivera, who returned to the lineup Monday after missing seven games because of right hip tightness, did not start for the second straight game Wednesday, but the outfielder said he "feels good, 100%."


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