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Unusual triple play starts at first base

Times Staff Writer

Bet you’ve never seen this before: The Angels turned a 3-1-6 triple play in the third inning Saturday, the highlight of a 9-8 Cactus League victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Steve Finley, the former Angels and Dodgers center fielder in the Rockies’ camp on a minor league contract, hit a sinking line drive toward first baseman Casey Kotchman. With runners on the move from first and second base, Kotchman realized a force at second would be out of the question.

Kotchman made a diving catch, then flipped to pitcher Dustin Moseley, who was on the way to cover first base in case Kotchman played the ball on a hop. Moseley’s relay to shortstop Erick Aybar completed the triple play.

“I thought I wasn’t going to be able to turn a double play,” Kotchman said. “I ended up turning a triple play instead.”

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No help needed

For Vladimir Guerrero, no supporting power in the lineup is nothing new. In his 10 full seasons in the major leagues, he has averaged 34 home runs, but he never has had a teammate hit 30.

Guerrero led the American League in intentional walks in each of the last two seasons. The Angels promised a big bat but did not deliver, again, and so the intentional walks could flow this season too.

Nonetheless, the 2004 AL Most Valuable Player said, the Angels can win the World Series with this offense.

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“I feel very good about where our team is,” Guerrero said via interpreter Jose Mota. “They talked about a big bat. We have big bats -- Garret [Anderson], and [injured] Juan [Rivera] is going to come back, and Shea Hillenbrand. And the style of [Manager] Mike [Scioscia] doesn’t depend on one bat.”

One leg longer

Guerrero endured tendinitis in his left knee last season, and Dr. Lewis Yocum recommended off-season arthroscopic surgery for “cleaning up” his right knee. Guerrero said he decided against surgery because the knee felt better after the season and he does not anticipate needing the procedure in the future.

Although he can appear to hobble when running, Guerrero said that does not indicate he is injured. His stride never has been smooth, he said, because his right leg is longer than his left leg.

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“It’s not my knee,” he said. “It looks like I’m hobbling, but I’m not. I’m fine.”

Guerrero led AL outfielders with 11 errors last season. He said he would offer no excuses and said the condition of his knees “never affected me,” but Scioscia said the condition limited Guerrero’s range and prevented him from getting to the ball as efficiently as possible.

To reduce wear on his knees and maximize the effectiveness of his bat, the Angels are expected to keep Guerrero out of right field on some days and use him as a designated hitter.

“When they ask me to DH, I’m going to DH,” he said. “I’m not going to ask Mike to put me at DH for the sake of it. I’m physically fine.”

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Hector’s ready

Hector Carrasco started Saturday and could make a start or two in April if Jered Weaver (biceps tendinitis) cannot. Weaver said the discomfort was gone and hoped to start April 6, the fifth game of the season.... Top prospect Brandon Wood singled, doubled and stole two bases. The Rockies stole three bases in three innings against catcher Mike Napoli, whose form Scioscia called “a little out of sync.”

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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