Speier tries to get his spot back

Times Staff Writer

TORONTO -- If Justin Speier has, indeed, been bumped from his seventh-inning relief role by rookie Jose Arredondo, the veteran right-hander is taking his demotion in stride.

“I love pitching with the game on the line, that’s no secret,” said Speier, in the second year of a four-year, $18-million contract. “But I want to do what’s best for the team. Whatever they feel is best, I’m going to agree with and take the ball when they want me to pitch.”

Since giving up home runs in two losses at Tampa Bay on May 9-11, Speier pitched the eighth inning of a 6-1 over the Chicago White Sox on May 14, the eighth inning of a 10-2 win over the Dodgers last Sunday and the eighth inning of Thursday’s 4-3 loss to Toronto.


Arredondo warmed up in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Blue Jays and pitched the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s 4-3 win, both situations that Speier, who has a 5.00 earned-run average in 21 games, would normally pitch in.

“We’re going to need all those guys,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “Right now, Justin is searching for a few things. He’ll get it back and be a big part of bullpen. Jose is throwing the ball well, and he’s added to that mix that will help us bridge the gap from our starter to the closer.”

Before the Tampa Bay series, Speier had given up one run in 9 1/3 innings of 12 games and had a 3.14 ERA.

“I know my location needed to be ironed out, and I had to fine-tune a couple of little things,” Speier said, “but I don’t think it was that big of a deal.”


Scioscia said Thursday was a scheduled day off for Chone Figgins, but the third baseman, who came off the disabled list Wednesday, said his right leg was too sore and stiff from playing on the Rogers Centre artificial turf to play Thursday. The leadoff batter might sit out tonight’s game against the White Sox, as well.

“That turf did a little deal on me,” said Figgins, who was on the DL because of a right hamstring strain. “It doesn’t give. At home, when I was running, it wasn’t sore at all. Monday, [after working out in Toronto], it was sore, and after [Wednesday] night it was sore, so that tells me it was the turf.”


Joe Saunders, scratched from Thursday’s game Wednesday night because of severe cold symptoms and fatigue, looked and felt a lot better Thursday, and the left-hander said he would be able to pitch tonight against the Chicago White Sox.

Saunders, who lost about 10 pounds during his brief illness, felt so sick Wednesday he returned to the team hotel before the game, only to find more frustration.

“I went back to my room, and the game wasn’t even televised locally,” Saunders said. “All they had on were soccer replays.”


Scioscia will hold a team meeting today to address baseball’s edict that umpires step up their enforcement of pace-of-game rules.

Much of the focus will be on the 12-second rule for delivering a pitch, keeping batters in the box between pitches, and not granting timeout to a batter once a pitcher has begun his delivery. But Scioscia had one other suggestion.

“Most of the time between innings, our pitcher is waiting for a signal from the umpire to pitch,” Scioscia said. “That could [cut] 10-15 seconds every half-inning.

“I know television is very important, but if the game comes on with the guy in his windup, that’s OK.”