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Deep bullpen should come as a big relief to Stingers

MESA, Ariz. — "Bullpen by committee."

When a pitching coach uses those three words, it usually means he doesn't have anybody in his relief corps capable of being a closer. In the case of Salt Lake Stingers pitching coach Randy Kramer, he believes that he has two or three pitchers that are able to close out games. Kramer says it's just a matter of finding someone who wants to take charge of the role.

Kramer says the team will open the season with 12 pitchers, leaving him a seven-man bullpen. Right now there are 12 pitchers in camp, but more moves from Anaheim, as well as with Salt Lake, are expected this weekend. While there are currently no left-handed pitchers in the starting rotation, there are three lefties in the pen. That group is led by 2000 PCL All-Star Juan Alvarez, who has had stints with the Angels each of the last two seasons. Alvarez was 3-1 with Edmonton last season with a 2.82 ERA and a low .222 average against.

The other two lefties are veterans of the PCL wars, Gavin Osteen and Will Brunson. Osteen, the of the former Dodger and Cardinal pitcher Claude Osteen, has pitched in Tacoma, Albuquerque and Nashville since 1992. But it has been an injury plagued career with just 15 appearances last season and he missed the entire 1996 season. Brunson has pitched for Albuquerque and Sacramento since 1996. He did see major league action with the Dodgers and Detroit in '98 and '99 with a 1-1 mark in 27 outings. He was 3-0 with the River Cats last season.

Coming from the right side, Bart Miadich may open the season as the closer. He picked up one save for Edmonton in 10 appearances for the Trappers in his AAA debut, striking out 20 in 21 innings of work.

Jason Beverlin comes from the Yankees organization where he was primarily a starter. Beverlin struggled in his AAA debut, going 0-3, 18.90 in three starts for Columbus, but he was 8-9, 2.82 in 24 starts at AA Norwich, allowing a miniscule .214 average against. Veteran Toby Borland comes to Salt Lake with 165 major league games under his belt for three different teams, the Phillies, Mets and Red Sox.

Aaron Small was 11-6 for Colorado Springs in 2000 after appearing in 138 major league games from 1994 to 1998 for Toronto, Oakland and Arizona, 15-10, 5.23 with four saves.

BEE LINES: The Stingers lost 5-3 to Fresno on Friday. Third baseman Jose Fernandez blasted a two-run homer in the first, but the Grizzlies rallied with one run in the second and two in each the sixth and seventh innings. Four of the runs came off Elvin Nina, who struggled, allowing five runs on seven hits in four innings of work. Starter Steve Green was effective, giving up just one run on three hits in four innings pitched . . . The Salt Lake roster is down to 22 players after Friday's moves. Player development director Darrell Miller noted that there are four or five players battling for one available spot on the Angels major league roster, but that there was no indication from the parent club as to when the moves will be made . . . Despite a good start at the major league level this spring, former BYU star outfielder Gary Johnson will open the season at AA Arkansas. Johnson .308 for the Angels in big league exhibition play with one home run and three RBIs.

Steve Klauke is the voice of the Salt Lake Stingers. His broadcast will be heard this season on ESPN Radio, 1230 AM.