Big guys go deep

Both Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson have crushed deep home runs against the Chicago Cubs, but the Angels still trail 7-4 in the sixth inning. In what was shaping up to be a solid defensive game for the Angels, they just committed two miscues in the sixth to allow a run. Garry Matthews had an impressive running catch into the gap earlier in the game and Maicer Izturis made a tough play in the hole to his left. But Orlando Cabrera threw high on a double play and an Izturis fielding error allowed the Cubs to score.

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Roster thoughts

By Doug Padilla
Staff Writer

MESA, Ariz. Two injuries last week have the Angels scrambling to make contingency plans with a week to go before Opening Day.
Chone Figgins’ two broken fingers on his right hand and Kelvim Escobar’s strained lower back have created new scenarios.
Figgins will start on the disabled list and miss the first month of the season, opening up a roster spot. Tommy Murphy and Reggie Willits were believed to be battling to make the major-league club before Figgins went down. Now they both have the opportunity to start the season in Anaheim.
But since Murphy and Willits are so similar, guys like Nick Gorneault, Curtis Pride, Kendry Morales and even Jeff Mathis are getting a renewed look.
Gorneault would provide right-handed power off the bench and would be able to spell Garret Anderson in left and Vladimir Guerrero in right but would not offer any coverage in center field. Pride offers the same defensively but would provide a left-handed bat off the bench.
Morales and Mathis still seem destined for Triple-A Salt Lake, even with the new roster opening.
(Gorneault) does have a live bat and that could be something we’re going to look at, manager Mike Scioscia said. If you can project what our lineup is, there’s not going to be a lot of maneuvering, especially early on, for guys pinch hitting. It’s probably going to be more of a pinch-running situation or possibly a tweak in the lineup to get (Robb Quinlan) in there.
The desire for pinch runners would seem to suggest that speed supplied by both Murphy and Willits will give then an advantage.
We haven’t ruled out Murphy and Willits on the same club, Scioscia said. I don’t think they are the same player. I know there are similarities but they each bring a different dimension. There could be a role for both of those guys on our club.
Escobar had been scheduled to start in Thursday’s Freeway Series opener at Dodger Stadium, but he will now remain in Arizona that day and pitch in the controlled environment of a camp game. He still is expected to make his season debut on April 3.
He’s feeling much better, Scioscia said. He will throw a bullpen before to make sure he is where he needs to be and he’ll throw in a camp game to get to 90 to 100 pitches and hopefully be out there for seven-plus innings.

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Santana shines

Ervin Santana’s impressive spring continued as he gave up just one run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings Sunday in a 3-2 Angels victory over the Chicago Cubs. The outing leaves Santana with a 3.65 ERA. The right-hander threw 91 pitches in his final Arizona start and might actually dial it back a bit when he takes the mound Friday against the Dodgers in his final tuneup. Not even a towering home run from the Cubs’ Cliff Floyd could ruin Santana’s day. My slider is getting better, Santana said. It has more break, a late break, so the hitter thinks fastball.

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Escobar tweaks his back

Kelvim Escobar appeared to injure his back in the third inning of today’s game against the Rockies. He appeared to be uncomfortable after trying to make a play to his left, prompting a visit from manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher. After a brief discussion, Escobar threw a warmup pitch. Another discussion followed and Escobar was removed from the game. He walked to the clubhouse down the right-field line under his own power and did not seem to be in any discomfort. More to come.

It figures that it was a bit prepature to post an entry titled “Positive pitching signs.”

UPDATE: Escobar was lifted with a strain in his left lower back. He was taken out for precautionary reasons and will be re-evaluated Sunday.

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