Will Ferrell visit a hit for Angels, Cubs and fans

Will Ferrell delights Angels, Cubs and fans with his participation in spring training game

Will Ferrell has never won an Academy Award, but the actor-comedian is the only guy in Hollywood who can boast of replacing 2014 American League most valuable player Mike Trout in center field.

Ferrell jogged to the outfield in Tempe Diablo Stadium to start the third inning of Thursday’s exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs. He took Trout’s cap and glove, and four batters later, he fielded Welington Castillo’s hit cleanly and made a strong one-hop throw to second to hold Castillo to a single.

Ferrell’s stop in Tempe was part of a five-stadium tour of the Cactus League in which he was to play all nine positions for 10 teams as part of an HBO special that will air later this year.

“When he came out and took my glove and hat, he said he was going to take my job — he was messing around with me,” said Trout, who listed “Step Brothers” as his favorite Ferrell movie. “Growing up, watching him in movies and stuff, it was pretty cool seeing him in real life. He was funny. Everyone got a kick out of it.”

Ferrell’s day started at Hohokam Park in Mesa, Ariz., where he played shortstop and second base in the Seattle-Oakland game. His next stop was Tempe, about a 15-minute drive from Mesa.

Ferrell entered the field from a gate down the right-field line, followed by a camera crew and more than a dozen photographers. He jogged toward the first base dugout, slapping the hands of fans, stealing a bag of popcorn from one fan and giving it to another.

When he got to the Angels dugout, Ferrell was mobbed by Angels players who greeted him with high fives and hugs.

After his seamless half inning in center field for the Angels, Ferrell changed into a Cubs uniform and coached third base for Chicago in the top of the fourth, flashing cue cards to batters and baserunners with the sayings, “Swing as hard as you can,” and “Don’t steal,” and, “Did you sleep well last night?” and “Take a pitch,” and “Remember, these games don’t count.”

After the Cubs rallied for four runs, Manager Joe Maddon sent Ferrell up to bat for Matt Szczur against Angels right-hander Zach Stewart. The Angels countered with an extreme shift, placing all four infielders on the right side. Ferrell struck out swinging.

“He’s a menacing figure at the plate, so I knew I had to bring my best stuff to get him out,” Stewart said. “I threw all heaters. I tried to blow his doors off. He put a good swing on that last one. It’s a good thing he didn’t catch up to it and take me off the wall.”

A productive at-bat, it wasn’t, but the Angels were impressed by Ferrell’s play in center field on Castillo’s hit.

“It was a really good play,” Stewart said. “He stayed behind the ball, made a good throw to second and held the guy at first. He definitely held is own out there.”

Ferrell played first base for the Cubs to start the bottom of the fourth, but after Josh Rutledge flied to left for the first out, Ferrell was replaced by starter Mike Olt. Ferrell, feigning disgust, slammed his glove to the ground and walked off the field.

Ferrell and his crew left Tempe and drove to Salt River Fields in Scottsdale to play in the Cincinnati-Arizona game. From there, he was to travel by helicopter to Camelback Ranch in Glendale to play in the San Francisco-Chicago White Sox game.

The Cactus League staggered the start times of the first four games to accommodate Ferrell, whose day was scheduled to end at Peoria Stadium for a night game between the Dodgers and San Diego Padres.

Game-used memorabilia from Ferrell’s journey will be auctioned at mlb.com, with proceeds going to fight cancer.

Ferrell spent the most time in the Athletics’ camp Thursday morning, hanging around the clubhouse, taking batting practice and meeting former Oakland shortstop Bert Campaneris, the man he was honoring by playing all nine positions Thursday.

On Sept. 8, 1965, Campaneris, in only his second major league season, played all nine positions for the Kansas City Athletics in a game against the Angels.

Ferrell declined all media interviews upon arriving in Oakland’s camp, claiming, “I can’t talk. I’m in beast mode.”

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