10/15/2003 5:36 PM ET Angels release DH Fullmer By Doug Miller / MLB.com
The Angels continued their offseason clearing of roster space by releasing designated hitter Brad Fullmer on Wednesday. In the process, they indicated strongly that they will search for a starting right fielder in the coming months.
Fullmer, 28, batted .306 with nine home runs, 35 RBIs, nine doubles and two triples in 63 games before suffering a season-ending ruptured patella tendon in his right knee while running out a ground ball June 28.
He underwent surgery to repair the knee on July 1 and has been rehabbing to get back on the field for Spring Training.
But when Fullmer was injured, regular right fielder Tim Salmon assumed most of the DH duties and Jeff DaVanon stepped up to fill in admirably as an outfield reserve.
It's unclear that the Angels view DaVanon as a starter for 2004, but general manager Bill Stoneman on Wednesday said it's a possibility.
"In looking forward, Salmon DH'd more this year and probably will more in '04 than he did in '03," Stoneman said. "We made room to get DaVanon in the outfield a little bit."
Or someone else.
Stoneman, who said in early September that the Angels would pursue a starting pitcher in the offseason, has expanded his wish list to include an outfielder, among other possible positions.
"We will be talking to pitchers, outfielders and maybe others," Stoneman said.
"We're going to be actively talking to the free-agent guys and also be looking on Dec. 21 at who didn't get offered contracts by their clubs. There are going to be a lot of guys we're looking at. How it will turn out, it's going to take time to find out."
What appears to be certain is that Fullmer, a popular player in the clubhouse, will not play for the Angels next year.
Stoneman said that might be the best thing for both parties.
"I know when [manager] Mike [Scioscia] didn't play him against some left-handers, Brad said he wanted to play more," Stoneman said.
"That's what players do. They get paid to play and they want to play. Looking forward to next season, assuming he's back and healthy, it appeared likely that he would get fewer opportunities. I'm sure he's going to want to find a full-time job and maximize his opportunities to get at-bats."
Last year, after Fullmer batted .289 with 19 homers and helped the Angels to their first World Series title, the Angels non-tendered him in December to avoid salary arbitration, then signed him for $1 million a year after he made $3.75 million.
Fullmer is eligible for arbitration again, a big reason why Stoneman decided to let him go.
"What it does is opens up a roster spot for us earlier," Stoneman said. "From Brad's standpoint, it allows him to shop the 29 clubs much earlier than he did last year."
If the Angels decide they want Fullmer again, they'll be forced to sign him to a minor league contract because, by rules, Fullmer would not be allowed to sign a Major League deal with the Angels until May.
Stoneman said the injury had little, if anything, to do with Fullmer's release.
"You've always got a question, but according to the doctors and trainers, he's right on schedule for his recovery, and the schedule would have him ready for right around Spring Training," Stoneman said.
"And he was in the clubhouse recently, looking good and feeling good."
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