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Lefty Relief Comes in Trade

Times Staff Writer

For two years, the Angels maintained they didn’t want to trade for a left-handed reliever “just to have one.” But when a lefty castoff became available at minimal cost -- and seemed better than at least two options in their own bullpen -- they grabbed him, acquiring veteran Jason Christiansen from the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.

Christiansen, 35, was 6-1 with a 5.36 earned-run average in 56 games but was designated for assignment last week so the Giants could clear room for highly regarded relief prospect Jack Taschner.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Christiansen, who will join the Angels tonight and be eligible for their playoff roster, will be a specialist who is usually called upon to retire just one left-handed batter.

Christiansen limited left-handers to a .250 average (20 for 80) with no home runs this season; right-handers hit .318 (28 for 88) with four homers off him. Colorado slugger Todd Helton, who bats left-handed, is one for 13 against Christiansen, and Arizona lefty Luis Gonzalez is three for 17 against him.

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The Angels, who will be responsible for about $175,000 of Christiansen’s $1.05-million salary, optioned right-hander Joel Peralta to triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Christiansen.

In exchange for Christiansen, who relies primarily on a slider and an 89-mph fastball, the Angels sent marginal triple-A reliever Dusty Bergman (8-5, 3.25 ERA) and right-hander Ronnie Ray, who went a combined 7-6 with a 4.39 ERA for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and Cedar Rapids, to San Francisco.

“It can’t hurt us,” setup man Scot Shields said. “We feel like we’re pitching a little better, but hopefully he can come in and get out some of the left-handers we haven’t been able to get out. It’s a good addition.”

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Angel veteran Tim Salmon, out for the season while he recovers from surgery on his left knee and left shoulder, completed his first week of live batting practice with a 40-swing session before Tuesday’s game.

“The knee is not 100%, but the shoulder is probably 95%,” Salmon said. “It’s better than it’s felt in five years. It’s unbelievable. I thought the shoulder would be the hardest thing [to recover from] but it’s coming around really well.”

Salmon will remain with the Angels for the rest of the season, traveling on the last two trips, but he is not holding out any hope of getting an at-bat in September.

“I dream about it, but I don’t know if it’s realistic,” Salmon said. “They’re in a pennant race, and I haven’t played in a year.

“You don’t go from a few rounds of batting practice and jump into a game.”

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Angel third baseman Dallas McPherson underwent surgery Tuesday in Nashville to remove a small bone spur and clean up the joint in his left hip. McPherson will be on crutches for eight to 10 weeks before beginning his rehabilitation and is expected to be ready by spring training.... Oakland right-hander Rich Harden, who missed his last start because of a rib-cage strain, was scratched from Thursday night’s start against the Angels after feeling discomfort during a bullpen workout Tuesday. Harden, who had to quit 15 pitches into Tuesday’s throwing session, was examined by Angel physician Lewis Yocum.... Oakland shortstop Bobby Crosby was scratched from Tuesday night’s game because of a bruised left ankle. A’s center fielder Mark Kotsay is unavailable for the series because of a lower-back injury.


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