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ANGELS FYI

Angels center fielder Torii Hunter gets good news

The 'pop' he heard in his right groin was only scar tissue breaking up in the incision from his off-season surgery.

March 07, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

When he slid too early into second, got his knee stuck in the dirt a bit and heard a "pop" in his right groin on Friday, Torii Hunter thought he had damaged something in the area that was repaired by a sports hernia operation last November.

"I was like, ‘What the heck just happened?' " said Hunter, who had doubled off the left-field wall in an exhibition game against Colorado.

Hunter got the answer — and a huge dose of relief — when he was examined Saturday by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who told the Angels center fielder the "pop" was some scar tissue breaking up in the incision from his surgery.

"They were all relaxed, and I was like, ‘Are you guys not worried?' " Hunter said of the team's medical staff. "It was pretty funny. They told me there will be a point where it will pop totally, I'll be scared for a minute, and then I'll feel fine. I guess that's the process."

Hunter didn't play Saturday and was not in the lineup for Sunday's game against Oakland, which was rained out. He felt much better Sunday morning and was able to take batting practice, run the bases lightly and shag some balls in the outfield.

"The last two days were like night and day," said Hunter, who hit .299 with 22 home runs and 90 runs batted in last season. "I got out of bed [Sunday] morning and thought, ‘Man, this is nothing.' "

But with the Angels scheduled to make an hour-long bus ride to Surprise, Ariz., for a game against Texas on Monday, Hunter said, with a grin, "I'll probably be a little sore Monday morning."

Translation: Hunter, who played the second half of 2009 with a sore groin after crashing into walls in Dodger Stadium in late May and San Francisco in mid-June, will skip the trip to Surprise but will probably play Tuesday at home against San Diego.

That's what's known in spring training as a veteran move.

Rained out

Sunday's rain washed out Hideki Matsui's highly anticipated spring debut with the Angels.

The Japanese slugger was in the lineup for the first time, batting cleanup against the A's, a development that generated a buzz among Japanese media members, several of whom took pictures and videotape of the lineup card that was posted.

Now, the media will have to wait until Tuesday for Matsui's debut. Manager Mike Scioscia said Matsui, relegated by a pair of arthritic knees to designated hitter for all 142 of his games with the New York Yankees last season, will not make the trip to Surprise.

"He can get another good workout in [Monday] and then get ready to go," Scioscia said.

Joe Saunders, who was schedule to start against Oakland, instead threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on a covered mound and will be folded into the rotation Friday. Ervin Santana will start Monday against the Rangers.

Lighter load

Left fielder Juan Rivera, listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, reported to camp lighter and leaner, having lost 13 pounds over the winter through dieting and working out.

"I feel different, like I have a lot more speed," said Rivera, who hit .287 with 25 homers and 88 RBIs last season. "I worked out every day this off-season because I wanted to come to spring training lighter."

The work may have paid immediate dividends — Rivera raced to the gap to make a nice shoe-string catch of Gordon Beckham's drive in Thursday's exhibition opener against the Chicago White Sox.

Would Rivera have gotten to that ball last year?

"I don't know," he said. "Maybe."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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