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Owens, DaVanon Central in Plans

Times Staff Writer

In each of the last two games, Eric Owens has played a line drive into a hit, diving for balls that caromed off his glove. In his last start, Jeff DaVanon misplayed two balls. Yet the Angels maintain that a combination of Owens and DaVanon is their best option to replace injured center fielder Darin Erstad.

The Angels did not expect Owens and DaVanon to duplicate the Gold Glove defense of Erstad. However, with DaVanon batting .206 and Owens .178, the Angels are not getting offense from their center fielders, either.

As long as that’s the case, with Erstad likely to miss another two to three weeks, why not promote a talented defensive outfielder and write off any offense from center field?

The Angels believe Owens, a seven-year veteran and career .263 batter, will hit. They also believe that minor league center fielders Julio Ramirez and Nathan Haynes would be overmatched offensively, and neither is so superior defensively to warrant the trade-off in a lineup in which success depends upon production from top to bottom. Haynes, 23, is batting .324 at double-A Arkansas.

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David Eckstein is the co-author of a children’s book called “Have Heart,” a first-person story of how he beat the odds to become what the promotional announcement calls a “5-foot-6 3/4 sparkplug shortstop” for a World Series champion. Eckstein said he did no writing but was interviewed by the other co-author. He then had his mother and one of his brothers review the text, he said, to “make sure it was in words I would actually use, since it’s me telling a story.”

The Angels will distribute free copies to the first 7,000 children at their May 25 game.

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Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said all six coaches -- Bud Black, Alfredo Griffin, Mickey Hatcher, Joe Maddon, Orlando Mercado and Ron Roenicke -- have accepted his invitation to serve on the All-Star game coaching staff. The invitation was particularly thrilling for Maddon, the only Angel coach never to play in the majors.

“That’s pretty awesome,” Maddon said. “You always see somebody else you know there, and you’re happy for them, and then all of a sudden that person becomes you.”

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Alfredo Amezaga, the Angels’ triple-A shortstop, has a 21-game hitting streak, the longest in the majors or minors this year. Amezaga, who batted .251 at Salt Lake last season, is batting .338.

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