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09/21/08 3:10 PM ET
Figgins back, but Saunders to miss start
Utility man starts at third base, while Scioscia holds out lefty
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Chone Figgins returned to the lineup on Sunday, while Joe Saunders will have his turn in the rotation skipped on Tuesday. Out of action since Tuesday with a deep triceps tendon contusion in his right elbow, Figgins was penciled in atop the Angels' batting order and playing third base. On Friday, Figgins said his contusion was affecting his throwing to the point he could barely throw from second base, but manager Mike Scioscia saw enough improvement in his condition to put him back at the hot corner. "He's feeling much better," Scioscia said. "He worked out at second base a little yesterday and feels great." As for Saunders, the prognosis wasn't good. As of Sunday morning, he's yet to pass his kidney stone. "The pain the other night was the worst pain I've ever felt in my life," Saunders said. "It was constant hell. It wouldn't go away." He was talking about the pain he experienced Friday night that forced him to go to the hospital. On Friday, the stone was passing from his kidneys to his bladder, which he said is supposed to be the most painful stage. However, with the pain he's had in his kidneys, he said his back also was sore as a result. Saunders said he was taking medication for his back pain and, according to what one of the team trainers told him, he's hopeful the stone will dissipate and pass pain free. Saunders said it was realistic to expect him to make his start Tuesday, but Scioscia disagreed. "We've talked to him," Scioscia said. "We're going to hold off and not start him Tuesday. He's a little weak right now, so it makes sense to hold off and let him work on the side and pitch again over the rotation." Saunders is on pace to start his next time through the rotation in the regular-season finale next Sunday. Jered Weaver and Jon Garland each will move up a day to start Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, but Scioscia didn't announce who would start Thursday in Seattle. So, while the Angels' rotation took a step back Sunday, the offense took a step forward for the second straight day. Vladimir Guerrero returned to the lineup Saturday and was slotted in the cleanup spot as the designated hitter on Sunday. Now that Figgins is back as well, Howie Kendrick and Juan Rivera are the only missing parts. Both are nearing returns. "Everything affects everyone else," Scioscia said. "It was contingent on where [Erick] Aybar was before. It was contingent on Vlad before. Every day, as we keep getting good news, it's one less scenario to deal with. That's good." Although Figgins was at third base on Sunday and said he prefers to play there, Scioscia said Figgins still may get time at second base, but that time certainly will diminish when Kendrick is healthy. Considering how many injuries the Angels have fought through this season, Scioscia is glad his players are healing at the right time, but he isn't sure how a fully intact lineup will perform. "This lineup we're projecting for the playoffs really isn't what we've had this season," Scioscia said. "We're excited to get it out there, but it's really an unknown."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.