Players gathered in the clubhouse Thursday and met with Adenhart's father. Center fielder Torii Hunter said they reminisced about Adenhart, his infectious sense of humor and desire to play the game.
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said Adenhart had struggled to reach the major league mound. "He just wasn't some extreme talent that was blessed," Scioscia said. "He fought to be here."
Adenhart's rise with the Angels reflected his faith in the team and the team's faith in modern medicine. As a senior at Williamsport High School in Williamsport, Md., in 2004, Adenhart was projected to be one of the top picks in baseball's annual draft, which would have made him an instant millionaire. But two weeks before the draft, Adenhart suffered a severe elbow injury that required reconstructive surgery.
The Angels picked him in the 14th round of the June 2004 draft, where signing bonuses generally run four figures. With the setback, Adenhart had planned to have the operation, attend the University of North Carolina and rebuild his status as a prospect on the school's baseball team.
But the Angels, confident in the success of a procedure known as "Tommy John surgery" -- named for the former Dodger pitcher who first successfully underwent it -- persuaded Adenhart to sign and rehabilitate under their care. They persuaded him in part with a $710,000 signing bonus.
Adenhart was in his fifth professional season, most of it in the minor leagues, and made his big league debut last May against Oakland, becoming the youngest active-roster pitcher in the majors. His first and only major league victory came that month against the White Sox. This season, for the first time, Adenhart made the Angels' opening day roster.
The Adenhart accident is the latest in a string of Angels tragedies. In the 1970s, infielders Chico Ruiz and Mike Miley and pitcher Bruce Heinbechner were killed in separate auto accidents, pitcher Minnie Rojas and catcher Ed Kirkpatrick were paralyzed in car crashes and outfielder Lyman Bostock was killed in a drive-by shooting while riding in a car with friends in Gary, Ind.
In 1986, one strike away from clinching the American league pennant for the Angels, relief pitcher Donnie Moore gave up a home run that allowed the Boston Red Sox to rally and reach the World Series. Moore, despondent, committed suicide three years later.
And last season, special assistant Preston Gomez was gravely injured when he was hit by a truck at a gas station on his way back from spring training. Gomez never recovered, dying in January at a Fullerton care center -- not far from the scene of the accident that killed Adenhart.
On Wednesday, the young pitcher -- like all of his teammates -- was wearing a memorial patch for Gomez.
Times staff writers Bill Shaikin, Kevin Baxter, Mike DiGiovanna, Lisa Dillman, Tony Barboza and Ruben Vives contributed to this report.