Rodriguez follows advice to the letter

Times Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- It was at rookie-league Provo, Utah, in 2004 that Sean Rodriguez received some advice from teammate Ryan Leahy that has always stuck with him.

"He said if you're not getting hits, you've got to take them away," Rodriguez said. "If I'm not getting any hits, nobody is."

Hits have been sparse for Rodriguez, who is batting .154 in 16 games since taking over as the team's primary second baseman in early May. But Rodriguez has provided web gems aplenty, stabilizing an infield hit hard by injuries.

"Sean has been a difference-maker at second," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're fortunate he's playing at a level like that."

Rodriguez, 23, who turned several key double plays in the Toronto series last week, was at it again Sunday night.

With one out in the fifth inning, Orlando Cabrera of the Chicago White Sox doubled over the head of center fielder Torii Hunter. When Hunter's throw short-hopped Rodriguez and caromed away, Cabrera broke for third.

But Rodriguez recovered and fired a bullet to third baseman Brandon Wood for the out. Rodriguez also turned a double play on Jermaine Dye's grounder to third base in the sixth inning and started a double play on A.J. Pierzynki's ninth-inning grounder.

The Angels began Sunday tied for the major league lead with a .989 fielding percentage.


X-rays on Reggie Willits' right middle finger were negative, but the Angels won't determine until today or Tuesday whether the outfielder, who was spiked by Cabrera on Saturday, will be put on the disabled list.

"I'm going to take a day off to see if I can get the swelling out of the joint," said Willits, who needed one stitch to close the deep gash on his finger. "It's a little sore. My biggest concern is it's on one of my throwing fingers."

Asked to describe the pain, Willits said, "Have you ever smashed your fingernail? I did that, except [Cabrera's spike] went all the way through the nail."


Chone Figgins sat out his fourth consecutive game because of soreness in his right leg, and though he was able to jog Sunday, the third baseman appears several days away from returning.

"He's getting better," Scioscia said, "but he's still not where he needs to be."

Figgins, sidelined in early May because of a right hamstring strain, came off the DL on Wednesday but played only one game on Toronto's artificial turf.

Tests in Toronto and Chicago showed "that the strength is still good," Figgins said. "It's just tender."


Though Vladimir Guerrero seemed to be regaining his power stroke, with three home runs in four games, Scioscia did not start the slugger Sunday. Guerrero has started all but three games this season in right field or at designated hitter.

"He's been really grinding it," Scioscia said. "I talked to him, and we thought this was a good day to get re-charged a bit."


Robb Quinlan, who started at third base in the first two games against the White Sox, left Saturday's game in the sixth inning because of a tight groin. He did not play Sunday. . . . Howie Kendrick (left hamstring strain) ran the bases at Salt Lake on Sunday and will run them again today. Barring a setback, the second baseman will resume his rehabilitation assignment with the triple-A Bees on Tuesday or Wednesday.


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