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Wake of Angel Moves Felt at Many Positions

TIMES STAFF WRITER

You could almost hear the dominoes falling on Edison Field Thursday.

The Angels brought up a prospect and traded for a veteran catcher who’s on the disabled list--hardly earth-shattering stuff--but the moves were seismic in the Angel clubhouse, where about half the team seemed to be affected.

Heck, Todd Greene felt the repercussions all the way up in Canada.

Troy Glaus, the Angels’ No. 1 pick in the 1997 draft who raced up through the team’s farm system this year, wasn’t promoted to the big leagues to watch and soak up the atmosphere. He figures to get plenty of playing time at third base. Which means:

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* Starter Dave Hollins, who has been hampered by inflammation in his right shoulder lately, will play less and play some first base. Hollins, a team offensive leader last year with a .288 average, 85 RBIs and 101 runs scored, has just eight hits in his last 36 at-bats. He also bobbled a ground ball in the first inning Thursday night, his 15th error in the last 58 games after committing just two in the first 43.

“I’m here to play baseball,” Hollins said. “I show up here ready to play every day and that’s how I view my role. Any of the other stuff, go talk to the people in the front office or the manager.”

* First baseman Cecil Fielder, who has three homers and 13 RBIs in July, will play less and get some at-bats at designated hitter.

“The move affects Cecil as much as it does Dave,” Manager Terry Collins said. “Last year, when we moved Dave to first because of his knees, he hit .330.”

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* DH Tim Salmon’s torn foot ligament will get a little rest when Fielder substitutes. But Collins clearly wants Salmon’s bat in the lineup as often as possible if the Angels continue to chase a division title.

* Greene, whose injured shoulder has precluded him from playing catcher as planned, is in triple-A Vancouver where he had been learning to play first base. With both Hollins and Fielder fighting for time at first, Greene now will concentrate on learning to play the outfield.

* Craig Shipley is hitting .324 in the last 11 games and drew praise from Collins for his play when Hollins was out because of his shoulder. But it appears his playing time will be reduced to pinch-hitting and some very occasional starts in the infield or outfield.

“I’d bring the kid up too,” Shipley said. “You’re trying to improve [through trades], but here’s a way to get better and it doesn’t cost you anything.

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“The kid has hit 35 homers [in the minors this season], what more can he do to show he’s ready?”

The other player involved in Thursday’s transactions is no kid, catcher Charlie O’Brien is 37. He’s admittedly not ready--he’s recovering from a broken right thumb--and won’t come off the disabled list until Monday.

It probably won’t be long before O’Brien is catching almost every day, however. Which means:

* Catchers Phil Nevin and Matt Walbeck, who have combined to throw out only 40 of 147 would-be base stealers this season, will likely be reduced to catching once a week.

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Neither has done enough offensively to overcome their defensive liabilities, although Collins likes the way Nevin has handled knuckleballer Steve Sparks and indicated he may have him continue to catch when Sparks starts. Walbeck has seven hits in his last 48 at-bats and Nevin has six hits in his last 36 at-bats.

“They had to have somebody else [to catch],” Nevin said. “If it’s past Sept. 1 and something happens to [Walbeck] or I, there really isn’t anyone they could bring in to catch. That’s not a knock on the [minor leaguers] in the organization. They just don’t have the experience yet.

“When spring training started, Todd was going to be the catcher, [Walbeck] was going to back him up and I was going to be the third guy and play some outfield, third and first base. So I guess I’ll go back to that role.”

Trouble is, all of those positions got a little more crowded Thursday.

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