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Rodriguez Longs for Family Visit

Times Staff Writer

His grandmother can talk to him on the telephone and watch him on television. But, two years after Francisco Rodriguez made his major league debut, the woman who raised him is still unable to see him pitch for the Angels in person.

Rodriguez has long wanted to bring his grandmother, sister and brothers from Caracas, Venezuela, to Anaheim for a visit, but he says the frosty relationship between the American and Venezuelan governments has complicated his effort to secure the necessary visas.

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas suspended visa processing during a national strike last year, a service that since has been restored. The governments have criticized each other in advance of a scheduled Aug. 15 election in which Venezuelan voters will have the chance to recall President Hugo Chavez.

Rodriguez, 22, said his agent continues to pursue the visa issue. He has not abandoned hope that his relatives might be able to visit this summer.

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“It’s very hard,” Rodriguez said. “The government in Venezuela has been talking trash to the government in the U.S.

“I’d love to bring them here. That’s my dream. I miss them so much.”

He does not lack the culinary comforts of Latin America. Altagracia Alvino, the mother of Dominican outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, lives with her son in Anaheim and cooks Latin specialties for any and all.

“She brings food every day when we play at home,” Rodriguez said, smiling broadly.

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Big results, small stakes: Shortstop Brandon Wood won the home run derby before the Midwest League All-Star game and received $100. Wood, the Angels’ top draft pick last year, is hitting .283 in 66 games at Class-A Cedar Rapids, with eight home runs and 40 runs batted in.... With ballpark voting over and online voting concluding Wednesday, Guerrero continues to lead American League outfielders in balloting for the All-Star game. Guerrero would be the first Angel outfielder elected to the starting lineup since Reggie Jackson in 1984. Garret Anderson started last year’s game, as a replacement for the injured Manny Ramirez.... The Angels announced that the Fourth of July game against the Dodgers will start at 7 p.m., not 6 p.m., to accommodate ESPN2.

ON DECK

Opponent -- Oakland Athletics, three games.

Site -- Network Associates Coliseum.

TV -- Channel 9 tonight, Fox Sports Net on Wednesday and Thursday.

Radio -- KSPN (710), KTNQ (1020).

Records -- Angels 41-34, A’s 41-33.

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Record vs. A’s -- 6-4.

Tonight, 7 -- Kelvim Escobar (4-4, 3.56) vs. Mark Mulder (9-2, 2.76).

Wednesday, 7 p.m. -- John Lackey (5-8, 5.16) vs. Barry Zito (4-5, 4.55).

Thursday, 12:30 p.m. -- Jarrod Washburn (8-3, 4.76) vs. Kirk Saarloos (0-0, 5.40) or Rich Harden (3-5, 4.13).

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Strike Force

Since suffering a loss and a blown save on June 4 against Cleveland, Angel reliever Francisco Rodriguez has given up two hits and no runs with 14 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. He leads the league in strikeouts among relievers and is joined in the top five by two teammates:

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*--* Pitcher Strikeouts Francisco Rodriguez, Angels 63 Scot Shields, Angels 61 B.J. Ryan, Baltimore 52 Juan Rincon, Minnesota 47 Kevin Gregg, Angels 47

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