He’s Second Best They Find

Carlos Garcia tried to do too much last season and wound up doing almost nothing. Traded from Pittsburgh to Toronto and touted as a worthy successor to former Blue Jay second baseman Roberto Alomar, Garcia hit .220 and was released in December, only three years removed from making the National League All-Star team.

“It was a very confusing year,” said Garcia, who was released by Cleveland last Wednesday and signed by the Angels on Monday night. “There was a lot of pressure, and I tried to do everything perfectly. Before I knew it I had a hole in my swing, and I couldn’t get it back.”

Garcia, 30, is still searching for his stroke after hitting .192 in 12 games for the Indians this spring, but his glove hasn’t deserted him, and that’s why he was at Edison Field on Tuesday afternoon, working out with the Angels in preparation for tonight’s opener against the Yankees.

Utility infielder Robert Eenhoorn hit .449 with 12 RBIs this spring and appeared to be a lock to make the team, but his four errors were a more glaring statistic to the Angels, who acquired Garcia and veteran Craig Shipley on Monday in hopes of shoring up their bench defense.


Garcia, who led NL second basemen with 80 double plays in 1994, probably will play two or three games a week at second, sharing time with starter Norberto Martin, who has never been an everyday player in the big leagues and has limited defensive range.

Shipley, acquired from St. Louis in a trade for infielder Chip Hale, was added to the Angels’ 25-man roster Tuesday. Eenhoorn will either be traded, released, claimed on waivers, sent down to Vancouver or become a free agent.

“Eenhoorn hit the ball well, but I just felt like if something happened to [Martin] I wanted another second baseman,” Manager Terry Collins said. “Garcia and Shipley are veteran guys who have done it at the major league level.”

Garcia, who hit .294 in 1995 and .285 in ’96 but struggled with his confidence, said he is looking forward to working with Angel batting instructor Rod Carew.


“I told [Garcia] to just be himself,” Collins said. “The thing that made him an outstanding second baseman was that he was such a good offensive player. We need to get him to be more selective.”


Four prominent former Angel players--Carew, Bobby Grich, Reggie Jackson and Jim Fregosi--will throw ceremonial pitches before tonight’s game. . . . There will be a 5 p.m. ceremony to unveil a life-size statue of Angel owner Gene Autry outside the home-plate pavilion area at Edison Field. . . . Michael Bolton will sing the national anthem.



* Opponent--New York Yankees, two games.

* Site--Edison Field.

* Tonight--7:30.

* TV--Channel 9.


* Radio--KTZN (710).

* 1997 records--Yankees 96-66, Angels 84-78.

* Record vs. Yankees (1997)--4-7.



(13-6, 4.23)



(18-7, 2.88)


* Update--Yankee owner George Steinbrenner has assembled a team with a $72-million payroll this season, and you know what that means--expectations are Empire State Building-high in New York, which can never seem to quench its thirst for winners. Manager Joe Torre, who guided the Yankees to the 1996 World Series championship, was joking with reporters Sunday about how much pressure Steinbrenner was putting on this team. “He asked me if an American League manager has ever gone undefeated for the regular season,” Torre said. Before the laughter subsided, Torre added: “That puts a lot of emphasis on opening day.” No wonder Steinbrenner is so excited. The Yankees have a marvelous lineup that combines speed (Chuck Knoblauch, Derek Jeter) and power (Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Chili Davis) from both sides of the plate and a pitching staff stocked with fine starters (Andy Pettitte, David Wells, David Cone) and relievers (Mariano Rivera, Jeff Nelson, Mike Stanton). Expectations are also higher in Anaheim, which plugged its rotation holes and finally appears to have enough pitching to make a serious run at the AL West title. Finley will be making his first regular-season appearance since last Aug. 19, when he slipped and suffered a season-ending wrist injury while backing up home plate against the Yankees in Anaheim Stadium.

* Thursday, 7 p.m.--David Wells (16-10, 4.21) vs. Ken Hill (9-12, 4.55).