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ANGELS NOTEBOOK: FINLEY FINDS HIS WAY INTO WORLD SERIES.

Byline: Joe Haakenson Staff Writer

ANAHEIM - Chuck Finley, the winningest pitcher in Angels history, finally made it to a World Series. Not as a pitcher, but as a catcher.

Finley caught the ceremonial first pitch thrown before Game 1 Saturday by Jackie Autry, wife of original Angels owner Gene Autry.

``I had to drive my own truck in here and borrow a ticket from Jackie,'' Finley said. ``That's how I got to the World Series.''

Finley left the Angels as a free agent after the 1999 season to sign with the Indians. He was traded to the Cardinals this season and went to the National League Championship Series where the Cardinals lost to the Giants, missing out on playing against the Angels in the World Series.

``It would have been a great storybook ending,'' Finley said. ``Probably would have given me closure of not only leaving Anaheim, but 17 years of baseball, just coming back to the place you started and loved.''

Finley's time with the Angels ended after their miserable 1999 season, in which manager Terry Collins and general manager Bill Bavasi lost their jobs. New general manager Bill Stoneman had just been hired and determined Finley, 37 at the time, wasn't worth the money Finley would command. Finley wound up getting $27 million over three years with the Indians.

``When I left the Angels I thought I had to go to a team that was absolutely, positively going to be a strong contender for a World Series,'' Finley said. ``I wasn't going to leave the team for somebody that might make a run at .500 or the wild card. I had to go with a team that I knew was going to be there for a couple years and be in place because I didn't want to leave here.''

Jim Edmonds, a teammate of Finley's with the Angels and this season with the Cardinals, watched Saturday's game from the Diamond Club seats behind home plate. He sat with Angels' third baseman Troy Glaus' girlfriend and cheered along with the other fans when Glaus hit a home run in the second inning.

Bavasi and former Angels scouting director Bob Fontaine also attended Saturday's game, being given tickets by Stoneman.

--Not so bad: Angels Game 2 starter Kevin Appier is winless in his past seven starts, which includes his three postseason starts. Though Appier is winless in the postseason, the Angels won two of his three starts.

``He's kept us in ballgames,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``We have confidence he can go out there and make his pitches. If he can, then he's going to give us an opportunity to win the ballgame. That's really all you're looking for when you come down to the last series. You want your starter to stay in the game, give you an opportunity to win and hopefully you're going to be able to do the things you need to do offensively to score the runs to win.''

--You don't say? Giants manager Dusty Baker said Stoneman was the only pitcher to strike him out four times in a game during his playing career.

``I don't remember it, but he mentions it every time I see him,'' Stoneman said. ``The only time I remember facing Dusty came in Montreal.''

--Sele update: Angels pitcher Aaron Sele had surgery Friday to repair the supraspinatus muscle and labrum in his right rotator cuff.

Sele missed six weeks with the injury but pitched in the final game of the regular season. But recently Sele has had irritation and inflammation in the shoulder, resulting in the surgery. Sele can begin rehabilitation in two weeks and is expected to be ready for spring training.

Sele went 8-9 with a 4.89 ERA this season, the first of a three-year, $24 million deal.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 20, 2002
Words:633
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