Figgins out five to six weeks
An injury the Angels thought would sideline Chone Figgins for a couple of days will knock the third baseman and No. 9 batter out for the first month of the season.
A second X-ray Friday of Figgins’ right hand, his throwing hand, revealed a fracture on the tip of his index finger. Figgins was hurt fielding a ground ball Wednesday against Arizona, the original X-ray showing a fracture of his middle finger. Splints were put on both fingers, and Figgins, who hit .364 with two home runs, eight runs batted in and five stolen bases in 14 exhibition games, will be sidelined for five or six weeks. The Angels hope he will be back by May.
“It’s a tough break for Chone and a tough break for us,” said Manager Mike Scioscia, informed of the news after a 10-6 exhibition loss to the Seattle Mariners. “With the progress Chone showed [Thursday], he felt he’d be fine. This is disappointing, but I know he’ll be back as early as he can.”
Maicer Izturis, who started 78 games at third last season, will replace Figgins in the starting lineup, and Robb Quinlan, who has played 83 games at third, also will play there.
Erick Aybar, who had two singles, two RBIs and three stolen bases, appeared to be closing in on a roster spot, but Figgins’ injury assures Aybar of making the team. With Izturis at third, Aybar will be needed to fill a utility infield role.
Tommy Murphy and Reggie Willits have been battling for a reserve outfield spot, but with Figgins’ loss, both could make the team. The chances of outfielder Nick Gorneault, who hit an opposite-field home run Friday and is batting .393 this spring, also improved.
John Lackey had been almost perfect this spring, with a 2-0 record and 0.73 earned-run average in three starts, but the Angels’ opening-day starter took a beating, giving up nine runs and 10 hits, including two homers, in four innings.
The right-hander, who will make his last spring start Wednesday in a minor league game instead of against the Oakland Athletics, was not concerned. He focused on his fastball and changeup and threw his best pitch, the curveball, only three times.
“It stinks to give up runs, but I’m not worried about it,” Lackey said. “I’m fine. I’ll get to 100 pitches Wednesday, and I’ll be ready to roll.”
Lackey gave up two-run homers to Jose Guillen in the first inning and Adrian Beltre in the fourth, an inning in which the Mariners rallied for seven runs and six hits.
Two E’s in Guerrero
Right fielder Vladimir Guerrero, who dropped fly balls in games Tuesday and Thursday, committed two errors on Jeremy Reed’s ground-ball single in the fourth inning, first bobbling the ball, then losing his grip as he tried to throw it.
Guerrero’s 11 errors last season, an American League high for outfielders, raised speculation that his defensive skills are eroding to the point where he should be a full-time designated hitter, but Scioscia said healthy knees would lead to better defense this season.
“He’s going to be fine,” Scioscia said. “Once we get into big league parks and the backgrounds he knows, he’ll play at a higher level.”
Second baseman Howie Kendrick, batting .400 with seven extra-base hits and nine RBIs, has sat out two straight games because of a tight left groin but is expected to return to the lineup Sunday or Monday.