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Angels don't question Juan Rivera's effort on last play

The outfielder had been criticized for pulling up at the last second on a ball that dropped about 12 feet inside the line to give the Red Sox a win.

September 18, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

BOSTON — Looks can be deceiving. That's what Juan Rivera felt when he saw the television replays of Alex Gonzalez's game-winning single Wednesday night, a bloop down the line that many felt the Angels' left fielder should have dived for.

Rivera, after a long run, pulled up at the last second, and the ball dropped about 12 feet inside the line to give the Red Sox a 9-8 win over the Angels. After hearing criticism of his effort, he asked teammates if they thought he should have gotten to the ball.

"I was about 90 feet in from the line, and I was trying to get to the ball," Rivera said Thursday. "On TV, it looks very different than in person. Everything looks really close, but from where I was, the ball hit farther in front of me. If I dive, I wouldn't have gotten it."

Bench coach Ron Roenicke, who handles the outfielders, agreed.

"He couldn't have gotten to it," Roenicke said. "I saw the replay, and it may look" as if he could have caught it, "but he was not going to catch that ball. He knew he couldn't catch it, so he pulled up."

But, considering it was the last play of the game, shouldn't Rivera have dived just to leave no doubt?

"Some outfielders dive, some don't; we've had guys who for years never dive because when they do, they get hurt," Roenicke said. "Juan plays hard. I don't ever remember him not going hard for a ball. If he thought he could have caught it, he would have gone after it."

What's on second?

Manager Mike Scioscia may have some difficult decisions at second base.

Maicer Izturis has gotten most of the starts there since mid-June, when a slumping Howie Kendrick and his .231 average were demoted to triple A. Izturis has played superb defense while batting .297 with eight homers, 20 doubles and 59 runs batted in.

But Kendrick, who has been starting mostly against left-handers, is batting .379 (58 for 153) with 32 runs and 32 runs batted in since his July 4 recall from Salt Lake, and he had three hits, including a solo homer and game-winning single, Thursday night.

Kendrick is batting .488 (21 for 43) in his last 13 games, and with Izturis, who has also spelled shortstop Erick Aybar, slowed by a hamstring injury that prevented him from starting Thursday, the door could be open slightly for Kendrick to gain more playing time.

"It's a nice situation to have, three guys in the middle infield who are playing at a high level," Scioscia said.

Guerrero sits

Vladimir Guerrero did not start Thursday night after coming out of Wednesday night's game in the eighth inning because of a bruised left rib cage, suffered when he was hit by a pitch.

But Guerrero, who was a little sore and swollen, said that Scioscia was planning to give him Thursday off and that he could have played.

He was available to pinch hit.


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