Notes: Guerrero will stay in outfield

Notes: Guerrero will stay in outfield

OAKLAND -- Vladimir Guerrero started at designated hitter Saturday afternoon, and the way he's played in the outfield this season, it causes one to wonder if his future is solely as an offensive player.

Guerrero committed his 11th error Friday night, when he let a deep drive into the right-field corner by Jay Payton hit the heel of his glove and bounce out for two bases.

It is not a career high for Guerrero this season; that would be the 19 errors he made in 1999 while playing on the artificial turf of Montreal. But he seems to be making more errors of the mental variety.

In Anaheim against the White Sox last week, Guerrero misread a drive by A.J. Pierzynski that sailed over his head for a double. In June, Guerrero booted a pop fly by Ronnie Belliard in Cleveland that helped fuel an eight-run frame for the Indians. And in April, Guerrero dropped a ball in Minneapolis that led to a four-run outburst by the Twins.

Despite his play in the field this season that includes as many as five dropped fly balls, the Angels do not consider Guerrero a candidate to become a full-time designated hitter and chalk his sub-standard play to "cranky knees."

"A lot of it is explainable. He has always had the great arm that will go over the cutoff man's head at times. As far as some of the balls that he lost or hasn't gotten to, that has a lot to do with his health," manager Mike Scioscia said, adding that his star doesn't need surgery. "If you're not running with the proper gait, the ball will tend to jump on you. He has played banged up."

Guerrero, who is 30 and is in his 11th season, has two years left on a contract that will pay him $13.5 million next season and $14.5 in 2008, with a $15 million option in '09 that includes a $3 million club buyout.

Scioscia doesn't feel Guerrero's role as a regular DH is imminent but did admit that age is becoming a factor.

"Everyone gets to that point," Scioscia said.

Ready for primetime: Jered Weaver was labeled a "can't-miss" prospect ever since he started taking the mound for Long Beach State, and the rookie has not fallen short of those lofty expectations.

He's used a deceptive delivery to keep hitters off-balance. He's used impeccable control to command the strike zone. He's also made the adjustments to render the scouting reports unreliable.

But it has been his poise and ability to handle the pressure of big-time environments that has earmarked Weaver for further greatness. The right-hander has performed well in Yankee Stadium and in Fenway Park against two lineups that are designed to wear pitchers out.

Against the A's on Friday, though, Weaver proved he's a pitcher the club will want on the mound in future big games. With the Angels' elimination from this year's playoffs at the doorstep, Weaver responded by allowing four runs and lasted into the eighth inning in a game the Angels would lose in the 12th.

"They've kept their composure the whole way, and they've kept their game plans throughout," Scioscia said of Weaver and fellow rookie Joe Saunders. "They have the makeup to pitch out there, whether it is a pennant race or a game that leads into a pennant race.

"Weaver has a desire to achieve, but he also feels the sting when a hitter gets a hit or hits a home run or he misses a pitch. He expects a lot of himself, but it is a single-edged sword, where for a lot of guys it is a double-edged sword and works against them. It should be an advantage for him."

Big factor: The A's have put together one of their patented second-half runs to reach the doorstep of the American League West title, but some new faces have made contributions. One is Frank Thomas, who is hitting .278 with 37 homers and 107 RBIs entering Saturday's game.

Thomas has hit 10 homers in September and backed that with a .295 average after hitting .333 in August, but his year didn't start well. The designated hitter posted a .190 average in April, which underscores the surge he's had in the second half and the impact he's had with the club.

"I think what he's done from the midpoint of the season to now is remarkable," Scioscia said. "To get his average from where it was and get his production from where it was to where it is is a terrific accomplishment."

Thomas has a pair of AL MVP honors to his credit and is a long shot for this year's award, but he's certain to get some votes. But after being limited to a total of 108 games in the past two seasons with a pair of ankle fractures, Thomas is a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the year.

On deck: The Angels will face the A's in the series finale on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. PT, with right-hander Ervin Santana set to face Oakland right-hander Dan Haren. Saunders will start against the Rangers when the Angels open their final homestand Monday night.

Mike Scarr is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.