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Relief Pitching Becomes a Sore Spot

A day after reliever Mike James said he would have season-ending surgery, the news about another reliever wasn’t good either.

Rich DeLucia, who has helped fill in for James as a setup man, has had soreness in his back and rib cage and may get a cortisone injection after today’s game.

Manager Terry Collins said that DeLucia was unavailable for Friday’s game. DeLucia said he felt fine Saturday.

“If he gets a shot, it will give him three days to rest [because of the all-star break],” Collins said.

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With the three-day break approaching, Collins was able to move starter Steve Sparks into the bullpen.

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Trade talks, and rumors, will begin in earnest after the all-star break. Contenders usually pick up a player or two, while noncontenders try to dump a salary or two.

“Everyone is always looking to pick up pitching,” General Manager Bill Bavasi said. “We would always like to make our team deeper.”

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Pitching, Bavasi said, may not be the Angels’ problem, especially if starters Allen Watson, Jack McDowell and Ken Hill successfully return from injuries.

“If those guys come back, we’re dealing from a position of strength,” Bavasi said.

Financial considerations will not enter into any decision, according to Bavasi.

“I don’t have permission to go out and do something stupid, but everyone in this organization is committed to winning,” Bavasi said.

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The Angels picked up Hill from Texas last July.

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Most players benefit from the rest during the three-day break. The Angels’ Darin Erstad, who was picked to play for the American League, may benefit from the lack of rest.

“He would be hurt more by the three days off,’ Collins said. “He needs to keep swinging the bat. It’s a big thing with his preparation and workout. He’ll get some batting practice and maybe an at-bat or two in the game to keep sharp.”

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Collins also would prefer to stay on the job.

“I’d rather be at the ballpark,’ Collins said. “What else am I going to do? I don’t fish, I stink at golf and I don’t play tennis.”

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Collins said he will rework the starting rotation coming out of the break. Sparks will take his regular turn, opening the series in Seattle Thursday. But Chuck Finley will throw Friday. After that, Collins hasn’t decided who will follow--Jason Dickson, Jarrod Washburn or Omar Olivares.

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TODAY

ANGELS’ CHUCK FINLEY

(8-4, 3.05 ERA)

vs.

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ATHLETICS’ JIMMY HAYNES

(6-3, 4.04 ERA)

Edison Field, 1 p.m.

Radio--KRLA (1110), XPRS (1090)

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* Update--The Angels were in first place at the all-star break seven times before this season and ended up winning the division three times. In 1985, they had a six-game lead at the break and finished second. Rickey Henderson, 39, leads the major leagues with 37 stolen bases and could become baseball’s oldest stolen base champion. Eddie Collins was 37 in 1924 when he led the American League with 42 steals.


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