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Manager likes what he sees

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PROVO — Provo Angels manager Tom Kotchman began the day in Florida, boarding a plane bound for Utah.

It ended with him sitting in the dugout at Larry H. Miller Field after watching his team defeat the Casper Rockies, 10-6, Tuesday night.

In between, he tried to learn his players' names.

"It's been a little bit of a long day," Kotchman said following his Angels' managerial debut. Kotchman had never been in Provo before Tuesday, but he was left with a positive first impression of the town and of Miller Park.

"This is like a postcard. It's a very pretty place," Kotchman said. "Now we just have to win more games. That would make it prettier."

So far, so good. The Angels improved to 2-1 and earned their second straight victory.

And Provo players were glad to finally meet their manager.

"You could feel his presence in the dugout," said Angel centerfielder Nick Gorneault, who went 3-for-4 from the plate, scored a run and had an RBI. "He's all business. It's great to see him here."

Kotchman's arrival had been delayed a few days due to some unusual family matters. He was in Florida with his son, Casey, a star first baseman out of Seminole High who was Anaheim's first-round draft pick.

Kotchman, a longtime manager and scout, is acting as his son's agent and has been negotiating his contract. Casey remains unsigned, but once he does sign, he will likely be assigned to Anaheim's lower-level rookie league squad in Mesa, Ariz., instead of Provo.

"There's enough pressure being a first-round pick, let alone playing for your dad," Kotchman said.

But chances are good that Casey will be a Provo Angel before the season is over.

"It would be a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Kotchman added. "It will be fun if it happens."

The Angels started strong with their manager looking on, jumping to a 7-0 lead through three innings. Starting pitcher Pedro Liriano, who picked up the win, struck out seven in six innings and did not surrender an earned run. The Rockies scored four times in the sixth before Liriano gave way to the Provo bullpen.

Liriano walked one batter on the night, and, amazingly, as a team, the Angels have walked just two batters in three games. It's still early, but it looks like Provo's strength is its pitching.

"I'd rather have great pitching and great defense than a great offense," Kotchman said.

Not that Provo's bats were quiet, as the Angels collected 10 hits. But it was not a well-played game from a defensive standpoint. Both teams committed three errors apiece.

Casper first baseman David Mulqueen slugged the game's only home run, a solo shot over the center field wall in the eight inning.

The Angels and Rockies continue their three-game series tonight at 7.

E-MAIL: jeffc@desnews.com