SECOND CHANCE; ANGELS HAVE CATCHING UP TO DO AFTER DULL 1ST HALF.
Trying to determine the defining moment of the Angels' rocky first half isn't easy.
It could have been:
Shortstop Gary DiSarcina suffering a broken bone in his forearm after getting hit by coach George Hendrick's fungo on Feb. 21, even before position players were scheduled to report to spring training.
Mo Vaughn falling into the dugout on opening night and severely spraining his ankle.
Jim Edmonds suddenly deciding to have shoulder surgery - after the season had already started.
Tim Salmon injuring his wrist while trying to make a sliding catch at Edison Field on May 3.
Manager Terry Collins and general manager Bill Bavasi finding themselves in the middle of a player revolt regarding Collins' contract extension.
Pick a moment; it doesn't seem to matter. All the Angels know is it's always something.
This season seems to be worse than normal. They invested $80 million in Vaughn, an obvious statement by Disney that winning - not just competing - is important.
Vaughn brought a winning attitude to the clubhouse, but his message has fallen on deaf ears at times this season. He held a players-only meeting once this year that ``didn't go over too well,'' according to a source.
Since then, Vaughn has decided the best way to go about dealing with his teammates is to do it one-on-one.
One reason the meeting didn't go over well could be that Vaughn has not been able to lead by example. The ankle injury forced him out for 14 games and into the DH slot for most of the season.
``Southern California hasn't seen the real Mo Vaughn yet,'' Vaughn said.
While Southern California waits for Vaughn, the Angels are waiting to catch a break.
``Nobody should have to go through what we went through,'' Collins said. ``All we can do is look to tomorrow. There are no guarantees in this game. We can't worry about the last two months, only the next two months.''
There is reason for optimism as the Angels enter the second half only 6-1/2 games behind the AL West-leading Texas Rangers. And they're expecting their injured players to return.
Salmon and Edmonds are hoping to be ready by the first week in August. And if they can make the impact DiSarcina has made, the Angels are in for a good second half. Since DiSarcina returned June 22, the Angels are 11-7.
``As much as I think I can bring to the club,'' Salmon said, ``I am not a savior. I've still got to find my swing. But the bottom line is having me in the lineup relieves some pressure.''
That the Angels even have a second half to look forward to is a credit to their resilience.
``We have played well through all that stuff,'' Vaughn said. ``We put ourselves in position to get people back and make a run by staying close. We'll definitely make a solid run. We've got a chance to make things happen.''
And Vaughn wants to lead the way. He's hitting .287 with a team-leading 17 homers and 55 RBI.
``He's a presence in the clubhouse, but the worst part is everybody's expecting him to take somebody and make him a better player,'' Collins said. ``That doesn't happen.
``It's a little unfair to judge him halfway. He came with so much hype, so much expected of him, and he knew it. But he's the real deal. He does everything a great player is asked to do, and he does more than he's asked. And he's playing hurt more than he'll ever let on.''
1999 MID-SEASON REPORT CARD - ANGELS
MIDSEASON GRADE (C)
Despite injuries on the field and distractions off it, the Angels have managed to stay within shouting distance of first. With outfielders Edmonds and Salmon due back from the disabled list possibly within the next three weeks, the Angels believe they are prepared for a second-half run.
FRONT OFFICE (B)
Bavasi made it clear by signing Collins to that extension that he runs the show, not the players. Although Bavasi might have helped the team with a trade, he didn't make a stupid trade trying to provide a quick fix. His patience has paid off, as the club is hitting now and gotten back into contention.
FIRST BASE (C-)
.287 AVG., 17 HR, 56 RBI
Vaughn's injured left ankle is healed enough to allow him to play in the field now. Only two of his homers have come while playing first. Darin Erstad was solid with the glove while filling in but hit only .257.
SECOND BASE (B+)
.310 AVG., 7 HR, 41 RBI
You could argue that Velarde, the team's most consistent hitter, should have been an All-Star. And, he's been outstanding on defense.
.264 AVG., 0 HR, 8 RBI
DiSarcina is back, but his injury left the shortstop duties until June 22 to Andy Sheets. Sheets drove in 26 runs but hit only .209 and made 10 errors.
THIRD BASE (C)
.233 AVG., 15 HR, 40 RBI
Glaus struggled so much at times that only his glove saved him from a demotion. Still, he's showing good power (20 doubles) and is second on the team in homers.
.240 AVG., 12 HR, 31 RBI
Five players - Greene, Matt Walbeck, Steve Decker, Charlie O'Brien and Bret Hemphill - have caught this season, and none has done much.
LEFT FIELD (C-)
.266 AVG., 7 HR, 31 RBI
Erstad recently broke a season-long slump, but his numbers are down from last year. While he was filling in at first, the team had to scramble. Even Dave Silvestri played for a few games.
CENTER FIELD (B)
.292 AVG., 14 HR, 43 RBI
Anderson was forced here when Jim Edmonds couldn't play. He's played better defensively than many thought possible without sacrificing offense.
RIGHT FIELD (C-)
.347 AVG., 7 HR, 25 RBI
Salmon was on his way to an All-Star appearance when he injured his left wrist on May 3. Without him, the Angels have no true cleanup hitter, and have had to use Orlando Palmeiro, Todd Greene and Reggie Williams, among others, in right field.
STARTING PITCHING (C)
8-6, 3.28 ERA
Olivares is the only starter with a winning record. Chuck Finley, Tim Belcher, Ken Hill and Steve Sparks have been either injured or inconsistent until recently.
RELIEF PITCHING (A-)
2-2, 2.18 ERA, 23 Saves
With Mark Petkovsek (8-2, 1.81 ERA) setting up and Percival closing, the Angels win when they have the lead late. Overall, the Angels have had one of the league's best bullpens.
.209, 3 HR, 26 RBI
Because of all the injuries, the bench has been overused but has performed well. Along with Sheets, Jeff Huson and Palmeiro have been out there the most.
Collins has called this his most trying season. Not only has he had to piece together a team decimated by injuries, but he also handled a possible revolt in the clubhouse. Somehow, the team is still in the pennant race.
DODGERS vs. ANGELS
Time: 7:05 p.m., at Edison Field.
TV/Radio: Fox Sports West; KLAC-AM (570), XPRS-AM (1090 Spanish), AM-1150, KWKW-AM (1330 Spanish).
Matchup: Both teams are trying to turn around disappointing first halves and make a run at the playoffs. In the past, Kevin Brown vs. Chuck Finley would be a marquee matchup, but not with the way Finley's pitched. Finley (5-9, 5.66 ERA) has an ERA that is nearly one run higher than his career-worst, a 4.67 in 1987. He's even hinted he wouldn't mind a trade to a contender. Brown (9-6, 3.53) combated two dreadful starts with a one-run performance in his last outing, though he didn't figure in the decision. Brown was the winning pitcher when the Dodgers beat the Angels 5-4 on June 4. Friday: Dodgers RH Ismael Valdes (7-7, 3.36) vs. Anaheim RH Omar Oliveras (8-6, 3.28); Saturday: Dodgers RH Chan Ho Park (5-7, 6.52) vs. Anaheim RH Steve Sparks (4-5, 4.68).
- Brian Dohn
14 Photos, 2 Boxes
Photo: (1--Color) Angels outfielder Tim Salmon, injured on this play May 3, is hoping to return by the first week of August.
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
(2) MO VAUGHN
(3) RANDY VELARDE
(4) GARY DISARCINA
(5) TROY GLAUS
(6) TODD GREENE
(7) DARIN ERSTAD
(8) GARRET ANDERSON
(9) TIM SALMON
(10) OMAR OLIVARES
(11) TROY PERCIVAL
(12) ANDY SHEETS
(13) TERRY COLLINS
(14--Color) BILL BAVASI
Box: (1) 1999 MID-SEASON REPORT CARD - ANGELS (See text)
(2) DODGERS vs. ANGELS (See text)
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|Title Annotation:||Review; SPORTS|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jul 15, 1999|
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