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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT : ANGELS : Simmons Wants People to Forget

Nelson Simmons was supposed to be a star. He reached the big leagues by 21. He cracked the defending World Series champion Detroit Tigers’ starting lineup in 1985.

Almost 10 years later, Simmons is playing for his seventh organization, desperate to shed the image that continues to haunt him.

“I almost wish I could change my name and go play baseball where nobody knows me,” Simmons, 30, said. “People have long memories in this game, and unfortunately, they still remember the bad things about me.”

Simmons, who last was in a major league spring training camp five years ago with the St. Louis Cardinals, is trying to prove he has changed.

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Gone are the days he spent in jail on misdemeanor charges. Gone are the days he got high on drugs. Gone are the days he assaulted authority.

“I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of,” Simmons said, “and I did test positive once for marijuana. But I know guys who have crack in their back pocket, and they’re out there making millions. All I need is for someone to give me a chance.”

Simmons, who was hitless in one at-bat Sunday in the Angels’ 13-5 defeat by the Oakland Athletics, spent the last two seasons playing for Jalisco in the Mexican League. He won the batting title last year with a .382 average, with 34 homers and 95 RBIs. He’s ready to make one last push to wear a major league uniform again.”

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The Angels will open negotiations this month on to discuss a contract extension with designated hitter Chili Davis, according to General Manager Bill Bavasi. . . . Frank Tanana struggled in his first outing of the spring in his quest to win a starting job, yielding four hits and six runs (five earned) in the fourth inning at Tempe, Ariz., including a towering home run by Ruben Sierra. . . . Second baseman Kevin Flora hit his first homer of the spring in the fifth inning off John Wasdin.


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