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Sele’s Warning to Kids: Dangerous Curves Ahead

Times Staff Writer

The curveball is Aaron Sele’s signature pitch, a thing of beauty that has bedeviled opposing hitters through his decade in the major leagues.

The final pitch of Saturday’s U.S. championship game in the Little League World Series was a fine curve, for a called third strike. But Sele said that, when he was 12, he rarely threw curveballs. He was horrified at the thought that 12-year-olds would be using them regularly.

“Learn how to throw a changeup,” the Angels’ veteran said. “A changeup is the best pitch in baseball -- well, that and a well-located fastball. That’s what I’m going to have my kids do.

“I don’t think a young kid needs the torque a breaking ball puts on the elbow.”

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Jeff DaVanon is hitting .370 in the last 10 days after hitting .140 in the previous three weeks, but he rejects the suggestion that he has emerged from a slump.

“To be honest, I thought I’ve done a good job throughout the year,” he said. “To say I was slumping, that’s tough to say.”

DaVanon hit six home runs in three games June 1-4, but he has hit three home runs in 60 games since.

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Still, he’s hitting .296, and his on-base percentage of .366 is the highest of any Angel with at least 250 at-bats.

Even amid a rash of injuries, Manager Mike Scioscia continues to bench DaVanon against left-handers.

The Angels apparently do not consider him an everyday outfielder, and he is out of minor league options.

“Any player wants to play every day, but the last thing I’ll do is second-guess the manager,” DaVanon said. “Your whole destiny can change with a trade or an injury. You never know.”

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Outfielder Eric Owens, who played second base and shortstop in the minor leagues and third base in winter ball, said he plans to take plenty of ground balls this winter, hoping to increase his marketability as a utilityman -- if not to the Angels, then to another team.

“I’d love to come back and play the way I’m capable of playing,” he said. “I think this team has a chance to go to the playoffs next year. That’s what I want to do.”

Owens, 32, signed a one-year free-agent contract last winter, hoping to make the playoffs for the first time in his career.

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He is hitting .257 overall and .484 in his last 11 games.

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Garret Anderson moved into third place in the race for the American League batting championship Sunday, trailing Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners and Bill Mueller of the Boston Red Sox.

Anderson, who had three hits and drove in five runs, is on pace to hit .324 and drive in 135 runs, both of which would be career highs.

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