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Vladimir Guerrero reluctantly remains Angels' designated hitter

His sore shoulder has prevented him from playing in the field so far this season.

April 13, 2009|Kevin Baxter

As upset as the Angels were at Boston's Josh Beckett on Sunday, they still had some ire left for the umpiring crew, which ejected four Angels yet only gave the Red Sox a warning.

"I don't think it was handled very well," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Both dugouts emptied and yet our side [got] the wrath of the umpires."

Crew chief Joe West said the Angels got the wrath because they deserved it.

"The Angels were the aggressors. That's why they were ejected," West told pool reporter Mark Saxon of the Orange County Register.

West said he didn't think Beckett tried to hit Angels slugger Bobby Abreu with the wild first-inning pitch that ignited the bench-clearing incident, telling Scioscia the ball didn't come that close.

"And Joe said he had a good view from second base. Obviously, that's a miscalculation by Joe," Scioscia said.

As for Torii Hunter, who appeared to snap just as order was being restored, West said "he got aggressive and threatened to fight [Beckett]. That's basically what happened, what's going in the report.

"I'm disappointed that, on Easter Sunday, we had to have some bad blood."

Guerrero stays at DH

Although he has been slowed by age and injuries and is no longer the outstanding fielder he used to be, Vladimir Guerrero insists he's not ready to become a full-time designated hitter just yet.

Yet, that's the only position Guerrero has played through the first six games of the season, with tightness in the muscles on the front of his right shoulder making it impossible for him to play the field.

"I can't throw," a frustrated Guerrero said. "When I can throw, I'll play. I don't know when."

Nor does Scioscia, who had expected to have Guerrero in right field before the start of the Angels' first trip, which takes them to Seattle on Tuesday and to Minnesota next weekend.

"He's making slight progress," Scioscia said. "It definitely doesn't look like anything that's long range. But we're going to monitor it to make sure he feels that he's not at risk to go out. And whether it happens in Seattle, Minnesota we'll see."

Of more immediate concern may be Guerrero's performance at the plate.

He was brought along slowly this spring after off-season surgery on his right knee, getting only 35 exhibition at-bats.

And Guerrero had only six singles and one run batted in in 23 at-bats during the regular season before lining a leadoff home run into the left-field seats in the eighth inning Sunday.

"He didn't have really an extended spring training," said Scioscia, adding that Guerrero is still searching for his timing at the plate. "Every game it looks like he's getting more and more comfortable."

Looking within

Although Scioscia said General Manager Tony Reagins continues to talk with other teams, the Angels are likely to fill the open slot in their starting rotation with someone already in the organization.

Anthony Ortega, who didn't get much of a look this spring, throwing only one inning before being sent to triple-A Salt Lake, is one candidate to start Saturday's game, when the Angels will need a fifth starter.

But Scioscia, backtracking on a statement he made a day earlier, is giving strong consideration to reliever Darren Oliver.

Oliver, a left-hander, has made 228 big league starts, although the last one came in 2004.

"We have to weigh the importance of taking him out of our bullpen for the three days leading up to a start and then three days on the backside," Scioscia said. "That's a big hole to fill."

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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