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Garland says he hasn't earned a playoff start

September 26, 2008|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE -- What once looked like an extremely difficult decision probably won't cause Manager Mike Scioscia to even flinch, not after veteran right-hander Jon Garland all but talked himself out of the Angels' playoff rotation Thursday.

"If it was my decision, I wouldn't be a starter, not with what I've seen from Ervin Santana, John Lackey, Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver," Garland said. "Whatever Mike wants me to do, I will do the best I can. . . . I'm not going to complain."

The Angels, if they finish with the best record in the league, appear to be leaning toward starting the division series Wednesday, which would spread five games over eight days and allow them to use a three-man rotation of Lackey, Santana and Saunders.

But if they opt for a Thursday start, they would need four starters, the last spot coming down to Weaver, who is 11-10 with a 4.33 earned-run average, and Garland, who is 14-8 with a 4.90 ERA.

But Garland's struggles over the final six weeks -- he has given up 31 earned runs and 54 hits in 38 2/3 innings of his last seven starts for a 7.22 ERA -- have essentially knocked him out of the running for a rotation spot.

"I feel better now than I did in April, and that definitely makes this more frustrating," Garland said. "It's always frustrating when you're getting runs and giving them back. I let my team down."

Try softer

Garland has studied video and tinkered with his mechanics, but the sinker-ball specialist thinks his problems stem more from trying to do too much at times.

"Guys are hitting jam-shots and grounders through the infield, and I'm trying to make better pitches to the next guy when I don't have to," Garland said. "That's when I give up the big hit, the double, the triple, the home run. My ball is moving. I need to focus on that instead of trying to make a better pitch than I'm capable of."

Garland will probably shift his focus next week to a bullpen role, which won't be foreign. The eight-year veteran has made 23 career relief appearances, going 2-1 with a 3.23 ERA, giving up 14 runs and 32 hits in 39 innings, striking out 27 and walking 19.

"I've got to be aware of situations and start getting warmed up sooner," Garland said. "I take a completely different approach in the bullpen. I may take only two pitches into a game instead of four. I've got to keep an eye on the game and be ready to go if called upon."

Lou who?

Vladimir Guerrero wasn't sure what to say Thursday when asked what it meant to be on the verge of joining Lou Gehrig as the only two players in major league history to hit at least .300 with 25 homers for 11 consecutive seasons.

That's because, growing up in poverty on a farm in the Dominican Republic, Guerrero, who started playing baseball "with a broomstick, no glove and no shoes when I was 5 years old," didn't know who Gehrig was.

"Where I came from, I had no idol, because we had no TV," Guerrero said through an interpreter. "I learned later on about Roberto Clemente and Rico Carty because I heard their names, but I never saw them play."

Rally caps

Torii Hunter, Howie Kendrick, Mike Napoli, Jeff Mathis, Reggie Willits and former Angels Tim Salmon and Bobby Grich are scheduled to attend a rally Monday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Angel Stadium.


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