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McPherson’s Latest Injury May Force Stoneman’s Hand

Times Staff Writer

The Angels’ hopes of platooning Robb Quinlan and Dallas McPherson at first base were dashed Sunday when McPherson aggravated his lower-back injury, a relapse that could knock him out for the season and prompt General Manager Bill Stoneman to make a trade to bolster the position.

Left-handed-hitting McPherson, normally a third baseman, was playing first at triple-A Salt Lake in anticipation of replacing struggling Kendry Morales, who was optioned to Salt Lake after Monday’s game. But McPherson’s back pain flared up while taking grounders before Sunday’s game.

McPherson, limited by lower-back and hip injuries to 61 games last season and 36 games this season, is scheduled to meet with a back specialist in Phoenix today.

“It’s frustrating, because it seems like every time I get an opportunity, something happens and it passes me by,” said McPherson, 26, who was all but handed the third base job in 2005 after the Angels declined to re-sign Troy Glaus.

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“But I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. I’m not going to give up. I think I can play baseball for a long time. I’ve just had a run of bad luck the past couple of years. Sooner or later, I will play to my capabilities.”

McPherson is testing the Angels’ patience. The team is in the thick of a division race, but rookie Morales has hit .217 in his last 45 games, and though right-handed-hitting Quinlan is crushing left-handers (.351 average), he’s batting .241 against right-handers.

The Angels were counting on McPherson, who has hit six home runs in 109 at-bats this season, to provide some power from the left side, but an upgrade at first might now have to come from the outside.

The most attractive option in a thin pool of available left-handed-hitting first basemen is probably Sean Casey, who before Monday was batting .301 with three homers and 26 RBIs for Pittsburgh.

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“We’re trying to improve, regardless of position, but depth is an issue, and there’s more of a need at first base,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s something we’re looking at.”

McPherson, who has a herniated disk in his lower back, said his latest setback is not as serious as the one he suffered in Phoenix on June 23, when his back locked up while he was fielding grounders and he “couldn’t walk the next day.”

But McPherson, who went on the disabled list June 24 and received cortisone injections in six different areas of his back, admitted he’s feeling some pain down the side of his leg.

Quinlan got his second consecutive start at first against a right-hander Monday and had two hits, including a two-out, two-run single in the seventh inning. He will get most of the playing time at first, and second baseman Howie Kendrick will also play some first.

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Garret Anderson’s sore left hamstring has relegated him to designated hitter the last nine games he has started, but Scioscia said he will rest Anderson on Wednesday in hopes that, combined with Thursday’s off day, Anderson will be strong enough to return to left field in Boston this weekend.


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