Figgins is glad to be on the take

It was easily lost amid the Angels' four home runs in Monday night's 8-5 win in Baltimore, but one of the most important at-bats of that game was the first, when Chone Figgins, after falling behind 0 and 2 in the count, worked a 10-pitch leadoff walk.

"The good thing was he threw me every pitch -- fastball, curve, changeup," Figgins said of Orioles starter David Hernandez. "That shows me what his pitches are going to be like all night, what he'll be featuring.

"For the guys in the dugout, I can say he's throwing back-door curves or sliders, the changeup is straight or fading away. I wasn't trying to go that deep, but the pitches he was giving me to hit weren't that good, so I had to battle."

Figgins did not score in the first inning, but that at-bat helped wear down Hernandez, whose pitch count passed 90 in the fifth inning.

The right-hander was knocked out in the sixth, when the Angels hit two homers in a three-run inning.

Figgins had a similar at-bat to lead off Tuesday night's game against the Indians, taking two strikes and then drawing a seven-pitch walk off Fausto Carmona.

Figgins took third on Bobby Abreu's single and scored on Juan Rivera's double-play grounder.

"I think those at-bats wear down a pitcher mentally, because now they realize they have to deal with the heavy part of the lineup," Figgins said. "And hopefully I'm on base when they have to deal with it."

Abreu has received a lot of credit, and rightfully so, for rubbing off on young hitters such as Kendry Morales, Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis, who have helped transform the Angels from a free-swinging bunch to a more patient, selective group.

But Figgins has been just as important an influence.

He began Tuesday ranked fourth in the American League in walks (71) and on-base percentage (.403) and tied for third in pitches per plate appearance (4.20). He also led the league in runs (93).

Abreu was tied for fifth in walks (69), third in on-base percentage (.404) and tied for sixth in pitches per plate appearance (4.16).

"One guy asked me the other day if Bobby has changed me," Figgins said. "We talk about it more, but I've been trying to do this since 2006.

"I started on my own, because I knew if I wanted to be a good leadoff batter, I had to find other ways to get on base."

Rehab report

Pitcher Joe Saunders, on the disabled list since Aug. 8 because of left shoulder stiffness, said he extended his long-toss program to 300 feet on Monday and would repeat the workout today.

"I feel great," said Saunders, who received a cortisone injection in the shoulder on Aug. 8. "I feel like I'm ready."

Saunders, who is 9-7 with a 5.33 earned-run average, is eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, but he probably won't throw off a bullpen mound until this weekend.

It appears the earliest he will return is late next week.

"Joe took some major strides in his long toss, but we want him to repeat it and see how he responds," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He has a little more work to do, but he's getting close."

Short hops

The Angels have gone 52 consecutive innings without an error and have committed only one error in eight games. . . . Kendry Morales' 26 home runs are the most by an Angels first baseman since Mo Vaughn slugged 34 homers in 2000. Vaughn hit two home runs that season as a designated hitter.


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