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BASEBALL : Wapnick Hopes Strong Finish Will Provide Impetus for ’93

There are only two weeks left in the Pacific Coast League’s regular season, time enough for Steve Wapnick to revitalize his career.

“I don’t know if the last two weeks are going to help me,” said Wapnick, a reliever for Vancouver (Canada), the Chicago White Sox’s triple-A affiliate. “But they sure aren’t going to hurt me.”

The way Wapnick figures, his season cannot get worse.

At this time last year, Wapnick, 26, was putting the finishing touches on an impressive season at Syracuse, N.Y., the Toronto Blue Jays’ triple-A affiliate in the International League.

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Wapnick, from Sepulveda, was 6-3 with a 2.76 earned-run average and 20 saves in 53 appearances.

On the final day of the season, he was dealt to the Chicago White Sox as the player to be named in a trade that involved Cory Snyder.

Wapnick, who pitched for the Detroit Tigers in 1989, was 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA in five innings for the White Sox. He was the last player cut during spring training.

“I pitched well in the spring,” he said. “Unfortunately, when I got to triple A, my luck ran out.”

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Wapnick is 4-1 with a 4.85 ERA in 32 appearances, mostly as a mop-up man. He has issued 41 walks in 55 2/3 innings.

“It’s been a rough year, I haven’t thrown the ball like I’m capable,” said Wapnick, who attended Monroe High and Fresno State. “Until recently, I was falling behind hitters.

“I got into a situation where I was thinking of everything I was doing mechanically rather than just grabbing the ball and going after people.

“Two weeks ago, I reached the point where I said, ‘If I’m going to fail, I’m going to fail my way,’ and went back to doing things the way I used to. I’ve been fine since then.”

Wapnick is hoping a strong finish will help lay the groundwork for a return to the big leagues.

“Whether or not I’ll make it to the big leagues again is something I really can’t worry about right now,” Wapnick said. “For the next two weeks, I just have to concentrate on being a good pitcher, which is something I haven’t been for most of this year.”

In swing of things: Garret Anderson has not missed a step, nor too many pitches, since his July 11 promotion from Class-A Palm Springs to double-A Midland in the Texas League.

Anderson, 20, an outfielder in the Angel organization, was hitting .323 with a home run and 62 runs batted in when he was moved up. He is batting .313 with two homers and 17 RBIs for Midland. On Thursday night against El Paso, he hit a grand slam.

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“This year, I started opening my eyes and seeing that I could make it to the big leagues,” said Anderson, who was drafted in the fourth round two years ago out of Kennedy High.

“At the beginning of my career, I was playing just to play. Now I realize I really have a shot at it.”

Anderson, one of the youngest players in the Texas League, is among the RBI leaders in the Angel organization despite his low home run production.

The disparity in the totals doesn’t concern Anderson.

“Sometimes it kind of gets to me,” Anderson said, “but I’m driving in a lot of runs with line drives. I know the home runs will start to come as I get older.”

Not giving up: Rodney Williams is hoping the Kansas City Royals will stick with him as he continues to sharpen his skills and acclimate himself to baseball.

Williams, an outfielder who was selected in the 37th round of last year’s draft, batted .397 in his only season of varsity baseball at Palmdale High and impressed several organizations with his speed and arm strength.

Williams, 19, batted .211 in 29 games last season in the Gulf Coast Rookie League.

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This season, after two months in extended spring training, Williams was sent to Lethbridge, Canada, an independent team in the Pioneer Rookie League.

“I’m not where I should be average-wise,” said Williams, who is batting .181. “I’ve been hitting the ball well, but I’m not getting any breaks.

“I think I’m improving and I plan to work out hard in the off-season. Hopefully, they’ll give me a shot to move up.”


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