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Rodriguez Glad to Let the Good Times Flow

Times Staff Writer

Pitching in the major leagues is enough of a blessing, but left-hander Rich Rodriguez is grateful for the chance to pitch for the Angels this season. For the first time in a pro career that started in 1984, he is pitching at home. And he is truly thankful for a second chance to resume a career after hearing two frightening words from doctors last year.

The words were “blood clot,” the stunning explanation for why a nagging blister refused to heal. A clot beneath his left shoulder prevented blood from circulating properly to his pitching hand.

He was fortunate. Doctors determined that his heart was fine, and he was told the clot itself posed relatively little risk because it was located above his heart. He missed three months last season for treatment, and he still takes aspirin as a precautionary measure, but there has been no recurrence.

And, after he started this season in the minor leagues, the Angels promoted him two weeks ago. After pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings Saturday, he has a 2.45 earned-run average in three appearances.

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Rodriguez, 40, grew up in El Monte and lives in Westlake Village.

“I couldn’t have written it better,” he said, “to be fully recovered and to play not only at home but with the world champions.”

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The Angels are 4-7 since center fielder Darin Erstad last played. In his absence, Manager Mike Scioscia has used 10 lineups in 11 games.

Eric Owens, the primary replacement for Erstad, is hitting .192 (five for 26) in that span, and he has been caught stealing in three of four attempts. Erstad, a Gold Glove winner last season, is hitting .333, but the Angels have no idea when the tendinitis in his right hamstring will go away.

“Darin’s a big part of this team,” infielder Benji Gil said. “You get in sync when everybody’s in there, you play together for a while and everybody clicks at the same time.”

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Scott Spiezio started in right field, his first start at the position in two years. If the Angels keep Mickey Callaway as a reliever after activating Kevin Appier and Aaron Sele this week, Spiezio figures to become the fifth outfielder as well as the regular first baseman.... Tim Salmon extended his hitting streak to 20 games, the longest by an Angel since Garret Anderson set the club record with a 28-game streak in 1998.... Closer Troy Percival, who has not worked since last Sunday, figures to pitch an inning today, win or lose.

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