For a franchise only now entering middle age, the Angels - no matter their name - have endured more than their share of tragedy. From the murder of outfielder Lyman Bostock in Gary, Ind., in 1978 to the 1993 bus crash that left manager Buck Rodgers hospitalized for three months, they've weathered some awful storms.
Dick Wantz died of a brain tumor only one month after making his major league debut in 1965. Minnie Rojas, who had accumulated 27 saves in 1967, was paralyzed in a car wreck that claimed the lives of two of his children in 1968. Backup infielder Chico Ruiz was killed in a car wreck in 1972. Pitching prospect Bruce Heinbechner died in a car wreck during spring training in 1974. Infielder Mike Miley was killed in a car wreck in 1977.
Perhaps most notably, reliever Donnie Moore shot his wife and himself in 1989, only three years after allowing the home run by Dave Henderson that deprived the Angels of their first World Series.
Now Nick Adenhart.
What a nightmare. What a shame.
But if any team is situated to cope with the early Thursday hit-and-run wreck that killed Adenhart, a 2004 graduate of Williamsport High in Western Maryland, and two of his friends (a third was upgraded from critical to serious condition Saturday), it just might be the Angels.
Like the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians, they are an extremely stable organization. They are owned by men or families who don't have a history of changing managers and executives on the fly, and they rarely go outside the organization to make major changes in personnel.
Many people have been throwing around the term "family" since Adenhart's death. That's so easily said that it tiptoes toward being a cliche in the response to someone's death, but you have to admire the environment that prompted Jim Adenhart, Nick's father, to thank Angels general manager Tony Reagins for helping raise his son.
Reagins, the farm director when Adenhart was drafted out of Williamsport High in 2004, replaced Bill Stoneman as GM 18 months ago. He has been in the organization since 1991. Mike Scioscia has been the manager since 2000, and there has never been a rumor he was going to be replaced.
Owner Arte Moreno has shown a steady hand since purchasing the team from the Walt Disney Co. in 2003. He's the sort of owner who develops personal relationships with everyone he deals with, including players and their families. The Angels also have a veteran team, with strong leadership from the likes of Torii Hunter and John Lackey.
As far as the on-field situation goes, the internal options for replacing Adenhart are putting reliever Darren Oliver into the rotation or rushing a prospect.
But those are mundane considerations. The Angels' priority remains saying farewell to their fallen brother and dealing with the grief, which isn't likely to go away soon.
No guaranteesThere were some ugly pitching lines put up by unlikely pitchers Opening Day.
Six Cy Young Award winners started openers Monday. Johan Santana, Cliff Lee, Brandon Webb, CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay and Jake Peavy were a combined 2-3 with a 7.64 ERA. Tim Lincecum, last year's National League Cy Young Award winner, brought that figure to 7.75 when he lasted just three innings against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday.
"Sometimes you can think things into the ground," said Lincecum, who could have been speaking for the other six. "That makes it worse. ... I'm trying not to do that right now."
Dogged consistencyWashington Nationals starter Daniel Cabrera, an Orioles castoff, is a one-man argument for the designated hitter rule.
Cabrera was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts in his start Wednesday. That gave him this career batting record: 16 at-bats, 16 strikeouts. The Nationals might long for the recently demoted Jason Bergmann, who went 0-for-40 at the plate a year ago.
Thinking like a closerHeath Bell, the San Diego Padres' new closer, was asked about replacing Trevor Hoffman.
"I'm not going to beat his all-time record," Bell said. "His Padre record is my goal."
Unfortunately for Bell, Hoffman earned 549 of his 551 career saves for the Padres.
WhispersThe Dodgers' Albuquerque rotation (Maryland alumnus Eric Milton, Eric Stults, Shawn Estes, Jeff Weaver and Miguel Pinango) has more big league experience than the one in Los Angeles. ... The Nationals were one of three teams to open the season with 11 pitchers rather than the now-standard 12 (the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals were the others). That Nats staff gave up 34 runs in getting swept by the Florida Marlins in a three-game series. … All nine players in the Rockies' Opening Day lineup were homegrown. The Marlins had only one (Jeremy Hermida); the Padres (Jake Peavy and Chase Headley), Orioles ( Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis) and Nats (Ryan Zimmerman and John Lannan) had two apiece.
The last word"You feel like you're in the middle of nowhere." - longtime Oakland shortstop Bobby Crosby, who made his first outfield appearance by playing an inning in right field for the Athletics on Wednesday
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