Fabregas Shows He Can Palm the Ball

Angel catcher Jorge Fabregas' second-inning home run struck a palm tree just beyond the right-field fence Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

It was difficult to tell what was odder--Fabregas merely hitting a home run or that it slammed off a palm tree and bounced back onto the field.

Fabregas hit his first major league home run last June 18 against Chicago's Jason Bere in his 181st career at-bat, the most at-bats to get that first homer of any active big leaguer. He didn't hit another one all season.

"When I get a hold of one, I can hit it far," Fabregas said. "It's just a matter of getting a hold of one."

Fabregas started 63 games, more than any other Angel catcher, in 1995, but he couldn't match the offensive pop Greg Myers provided. Myers had nine homers and 38 runs batted in, but signed with Minnesota as a free agent in the off-season.

The Angels pursued free agent Joe Oliver, but he was considered too expensive and wound up signing with the Cincinnati Reds. The Angels haven't had a standout catcher since Bob Boone in the 1980s, making do recently with platoons similar to the Fabregas-Myers tandem of last season.

"I'd like to hit .270," said Fabregas, who batted .247 last season. "I'm capable of hitting better than that."

Despite Fabregas' lack of pop, Manager Marcel Lachemann said he's the odds-on favorite to be the club's opening-day catcher. Don Slaught and Chris Turner are the other contenders.

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The Angels played split-squad games Saturday and remained unbeaten (10-0-1) this spring.

At Tempe Diablo Stadium, they held batting practice against San Diego Padre starter Bob Tewksbury, hammering him for 10 runs and 10 hits in 1 2/3 innings. P.J. Forbes drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning, giving the Angels an 11-10 victory.

At Las Vegas, right-hander Shawn Boskie pitched four shutout innings, striking out six and walking two in a 5-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics. Mike Aldrete hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning for the winning runs.

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Third baseman Jack Howell, who suffered a mild concussion Friday, is not expected to rejoin the club for workouts or games until Tuesday. . . . Infielder Damion Easley, nursing a strained shoulder, still hasn't played in the field this spring, but played catch for the third consecutive day. "It's better, but not the best," Easley said. . . . General Manager Bill Bavasi expects to continue hammering out "small details" on multiyear deals for Garret Anderson, Jim Edmonds, Troy Percival and J.T. Snow until the deadline to tender new contracts on Monday.

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