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Albert Chen
May 22, 2006
Young King Cole The rampaging Phillies added another weapon in prized lefthander Cole Hamels, who sparkled in his major league debut
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May 22, 2006


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The Last Cuts By Mr. Angel?

When he walked out of Angel Stadium last October, after his club had been eliminated by the White Sox in the AL Championship Series, Tim Salmon thought it might be his last trip through those gates. "I got emotional," says the 37-year-old DH, who sat out the 2005 season recovering from knee and shoulder operations. "I looked around--at the ushers, the security guards, the doormen--and told myself that I might never see these people again, after 13 years with this team."

In February, Salmon reported to spring training as a long shot to make the club ("My main goal was simple: Don't embarrass myself," he says), but after hitting .340 with four home runs, he was back on the 25-man roster. Now the onetime face of the franchise--"Mr. Angel" holds the team's career records for homers, slugging percentage, runs and walks--is providing some much-needed pop in the heart of the order.

His knees still prevent him from playing every day--Salmon sits at least two games a week--but he has made the most of his at bats: Through Sunday he ranked second on the team in homers (five) and slugging percentage (.500). On May 6 in Toronto he appeared in rightfield for the first time since July 2004, when knee and shoulder problems forced him to DH for a month before he was put on the disabled list. It gave him the satisfaction of knowing he was leaving the game on his own terms.

"The way things ended [in '04], I just kind of limped out of the game; that season seemed to zap a lot of the fun I've had over the years," says Salmon. "I didn't want to have that bitter taste, and by being here now, I can say I've erased that bitterness. I'm enjoying every moment of this."

On the Way Up
Based on their hot starts and parent clubs' needs, these top prospects could arrive in the majors ahead of schedule.

DARIC BARTON (right), 20, 1B, A's
The Oakland lineup needs a spark, and Barton, a first-round pick in 2003 and an on-base machine (.413 OBP at Triple A Sacramento through Sunday), could be called up to replace slumping first baseman Dan Johnson (.177 batting average).

New York's rotation has been hit hard by injuries, and fill-ins Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez may not pan out. The Mets' next best option: this fireballer (2.89 ERA, 50 K's in two minor league stops), a first-round pick last June.

With L.A.'s starters (including his older brother, Jeff) struggling (5.12 ERA), this 2004 first-round pick (2.79 ERA, 50 K's in 42 innings at Triple A Salt Lake) should make his debut earlier than expected.

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