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Stingers settle in at home before opener

Move aside, Arizona and Florida. Add Salt Lake City to the spring training rotation — well, sort of.

After breaking camp in Mesa, Ariz., on April 2, the Triple-A Salt Lake Stingers are headed north for two days of workouts at Franklin Covey Field.

The Stingers, whose home opener isn't until April 13, are coming to town early for a couple of reasons.

First, players assigned to Salt Lake by the parent Anaheim Angels need to find apartments. The team opens Pacific Coast League play April 5 at Oklahoma City. The season-opening trip includes four games against the RedHawks and four at New Orleans.

Secondly, it gives the Stingers a chance to get familiar with their new surroundings. The players, many of whom were affiliated with Edmonton last season, will get two days of batting practice before leaving for Oklahoma.

Fans are invited to meet the team and manager Garry Templeton at an open house on Wednesday, April 4, at 5:30 p.m. The free event features player introductions and an autograph session. Concession stands will be operating, as will the team store. The ballpark gates will open at 4 p.m. for fans wishing to watch batting practice.

ANGELS WON'T VISIT: Stingers officials tried, but they weren't able to schedule a visit by the parent Anaheim Angels this season. The new affiliates hope to link up in 2002, but as of yet, no commitments have been made.

WALLY WORLD? Don't read anything into Wally Joyner's signing of a minor league contract with the Angels on Jan. 25. He won't be playing for Salt Lake. The BYU product signed the deal to earn a non-roster invitation to spring training. And midway through Cactus League play, Joyner is the frontrunner to replace the injured Mo Vaughn at first base in Anaheim.

REHAB POSSIBILITIES: Though at this point it's only speculation, several 2000 major leaguers could become Stingers while rehabbing injuries. Three-quarters of Anaheim's starting infield is currently sidelined. Vaughn is out for the season with an elbow injury, but second baseman Adam Kennedy (broken finger) and shortstop Gary DiSarcina (rotator cuff surgery) could end up seeing time in Salt Lake before returning to Anaheim. Another possibility — albeit a slight one — is veteran slugger Jose Canseco. The Angels' designated hitter has missed several spring-training games because of a stiff back and sore right hamstring.

HERE AND THERE: Anaheim outfielder Tim Salmon isn't about to let a slight abdominal strain limit his at-bats this spring. Though he missed several Angels games with the injury, the veteran will quickly make up for lost swings. Salmon plans to spend a few days in minor league camp playing games for both the triple-A Salt Lake Stingers and double-A Arkansas Travelers. Salmon plans to switch fields during exhibition contests at the organization's training complex in Arizona, so he can lead off each inning for two or three games and pick up 12-15 at-bats.

"It's fun because you just get to hit, and if you make an out, you don't have to think about it for 45 minutes," Salmon told the Los Angeles Times. "I always feel bad taking at-bats away from the kids, but it's something I have to do. It gets the juices flowing to get at-bats in game situations." Salmon has done this before in an effort to get an abundance of swings before the season opens. His career batting average in April is a meager .217.

BEE LINES: The Stingers have called a press conference on April 10 to unveil a new children's playground at Franklin Covey Field . . . Merchandise bearing the new Stingers name and logo probably won't be available for fans to purchase until the home opener on April 13 . . . Tickets can be purchased online at stingersbaseball.com.


E-MAIL: dirk@desnews.com