Angels GM: Locker to play baseball this summer

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Since the Los Angeles Angels drafted University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker in the 10th round of the draft last summer, the assumption has been that the Angels were merely taking a gamble on the talented athlete in case a career in the NFL didn’t pan out.

Locker was seen as a potential first round NFL draft pick this year had he not decided to return for his senior season. He’ll be a Heisman candidate in 2010, and if he continues on his current trend, some project he’ll be the top overall pick in the 2011 draft.

But now it appears the Angels didn’t just pay Locker $300,000 to hold his rights for six years. Locker has already made a low-key appearance at spring training, and now GM Tony Reagins tells the Orange County Register that the quarterback will actually play for an Angels minor league team this season.

“What we’ve tried to do is communicate a schedule that works for both him and the club and there’s certain points that he has to meet,” Reagins said. “He fulfilled his first obligation so far and our expectation is that he will continue to meet them.”

Reagins was vague about the quarterback’s obligations, but Locker, an outfielder who was the Washington State baseball player of the year in 2006, is seen as a strong prospect if he were to dedicate himself to the sport. He played 10 games for a college wood-bat team two summers ago, hitting .273 with a home run.

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes that Locker’s baseball outing in 2010 will probably be brief like it was in 2008, as Locker has always said he would not let baseball interfere with his football preparations.

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Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.