Angels hope Rivera, Izturis add depth and versatility

Friday, November 19th 2004, 8:11 pm
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Anaheim Angels made a late-season charge to win the AL West after they suspended Jose Guillen. They traded the volatile outfielder on Friday for two promising young players they hope will help them win more titles.

Anaheim received outfielder Juan Rivera and infielder Maicer Izturis in the deal that sent Guillen to the Washington-bound Expos.

Angels general manager Bill Stoneman said the two newcomers should give the team more depth and versatility.

``This gives us two young guys in areas where we need a little more balance, a little more talent,'' Stoneman said in a conference call. ``It gives me flexibility to address other areas, financial flexibility in the free agent market or in a trade.''

Guillen signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Angels last December.

Manager Mike Scioscia believes Rivera and Izturis strengthen the team.

``It's certainly a chance for us to shore up a couple of areas, a right-handed bat and a young infielder who has some incredible potential and might be able to help us right away,'' Scioscia said.

``It also opens up other avenues for Bill to look in some other areas, perhaps move some other players around to give us the strong lineup we need to contend in our division.''

Guillen was suspended for the last eight games of the regular season and dropped from Anaheim's playoff roster after he threw a tantrum in the dugout and clubhouse when he was removed for a pinch-runner on Sept. 25. In a grievance settlement, he agreed to allow the Angels to withhold two days' pay.

Rivera, 26, hit .307 with 12 homers and 49 RBIs for the Expos last season after being acquired from the New York Yankees in December.

``He's a strong right-handed bat and is certainly going to contend for a position and at-bats for our club,'' Scioscia said.

Stoneman said, ``We were in a situation where we wanted to get Garret Anderson, who played center field, back to left field, where he's spent most of his career.''

The GM said Chone Figgins would start in center field as of now, but that the Angels are still shopping.

The 24-year-old Izturis, whose older brother Cesar is the starting shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers, batted .338 with 65 runs scored, 19 doubles, three homers and 36 RBIs and scored 65 runs for Triple-A Edmonton. He hit .206 with five doubles, two triples and four RBIs in 107 at-bats after making his major league debut for Montreal on Aug. 27.

``Izturis is a young, up-and-coming middle infield guy who can really run,'' Stoneman said. ``Last year when I visited Salt Lake to watch our affiliate there play Edmonton, Izturis is the guy who really stood out in the series.

``He's a little-bitty guy, but he can play baseball.''

Scioscia likes what he knows of Izturis, a 5-foot-8, 150-pounder.

``The exciting piece of the puzzle is when you can acquire a guy like Izturis,'' Scioscia said. ``He's a guy that might help us right out of the chute.''

Since second baseman Adam Kennedy underwent knee surgery last month and isn't expected to be ready for the start of the season, the Angels could use Izturis at shortstop and switch David Eckstein from short to second, a more natural position for him.