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ANGELS FYI

Vladimir Guerrero says he has no hard feelings toward Angels

The Angels did not make a formal contract offer to the 35-year-old slugger, who eventually signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers. Guerrero insists he will not be motivated by the snub.

March 08, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

If new Texas designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero is bitter about the way his distinguished six-year career with the Angels came to an end, he hid those feelings well on Monday, when he faced his former team for the first time.

Though there were conversations between the Angels and Guerrero's agent this winter, the Angels did not make a formal contract offer to the 35-year-old slugger, opting instead to sign Hideki Matsui to a one-year, $6-million deal to be their DH.

Guerrero's one-year, $6.5-million deal with the Rangers includes a $9-million mutual option for 2011.

"There are no hard feelings at all," Guerrero, speaking through an interpreter, said before the Angels' 13-9 Cactus League win over the Rangers in Surprise Stadium. "If they wanted to sign me, yeah, I would have wanted to come back. They never asked me."

Guerrero, limited by chest and leg injuries to 100 games last season and criticized by some as putting a drag on the Angels' offense at times, insisted he will not be motivated by the snub.

"I just want God to keep me healthy," said Guerrero, who in 50 games at the Ballpark in Arlington has a .394 average, 14 homers and 33 runs batted in, "and whatever happens, happens."

The Angels know better.

"I think he will be, especially when we're playing him," said pitcher Ervin Santana, who threw two hitless innings Monday. "He'll give 100% every time against us."

Santana said it was strange seeing Guerrero come up in the first in a bright blue Rangers uniform top. Guerrero, a notorious bad-ball hitter, swung at Santana's first pitch and flied to the wall in right field.

"I couldn't hold my laughter — he was laughing, too — but I still got him out," Santana said. "It was a quick at-bat. Fastball, away, and he hit it right there. The only way to get him out is to throw it down the middle. If you bounce it or throw it outside, he'll get you."

Encouraging start

Santana, who threw 28 pitches, 17 for strikes, was very pleased when a reporter informed him that his fastball in his first exhibition start ranged from 92-94 mph.

Slowed by an elbow sprain for most of 2009, the right-hander's fastball, which hovers around 96 mph when he is sound, dropped to the 91-mph range last season, when he went 8-8 with a 5.03 earned-run average. Santana went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA in 2008.

"Thank you for telling me that," said Santana, who pitched with a nosebleed. "It's getting better. No more 88 mph. I'm making progress. I feel way different now, better than I did last year. You can challenge the hitters with that kind of velocity. It's a new year, fresh arm, out of the freezer."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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