Texas Ranger right fielder Chris James never had time to introduce himself to his new teammates after arriving Saturday afternoon at Anaheim Stadium.
He barely knew anyone in the clubhouse, hardly recognized his own manager. Acquired on Friday from the Houston Astros, he knows he’s nothing more than a hired bat for the pennant stretch, and with two weeks left, probably won’t know half these guys when the season ends.
Well, with no time for introductions, James made sure that his new teammates would know all about him by the end of the night, making quite a grand entrance in the Rangers’ 9-2 victory over the Angels in front of 31,159.
James, whose biggest worry was simply controlling his nerves, hit the second pitch of the game over the center-field fence against Mark Langston. He also ended Langston’s evening with another solo homer in the seventh over the left-field fence, providing Kevin Brown (14-11) with the victory.
It was James’ first two-homer game since May 4, 1991, and he just missed hitting a third homer when his ball carried to the warning track in center field during the fifth.
“I was just trying to keep my knees from shaking, to tell you the truth,” said James, batting leadoff for the first time since June 14, 1989. “I mean, here I am, in front of my new teammates, batting leadoff for the first time in four years, and facing Langston.
“I didn’t know what to expect.”
Said Ranger Manager Terry Kennedy: “We’re talking about one of the best pitchers in the game, and we knew Chicago already lost. . . . You talk about a guy jump-starting you.”
The Rangers, who moved to within 3 1/2 games of the division-leading Chicago White Sox, traded minor league pitcher Dave Gandolph for James because of an emergency. They lost Gary Redus on Tuesday when he strained a hamstring, then lost his backup, Butch Davis, the next day because of the same injury.
Kennedy, realizing the Rangers were in midst of a stretch of facing six left-handed starters in seven games, desperately needed another right-handed-hitting outfielder. He telephoned General Manager Tom Grieve, and they came up with James. Little did they realize he would pull off his Jose Canseco impersonation the first night.
“I think we got the right guy,” Kennedy said.
The Rangers’ euphoria was somewhat diminished because pitcher Nolan Ryan received a death threat for the second night in a row. It came from a caller to the Angels’ switchboard. Ryan still was honored before the game.
While the Rangers continue to prepare for a possible playoff berth, the Angels were busy behind the scenes Saturday making plans for next year. Angel Vice President Whitey Herzog met with Bill Bavasi, who will be formally announced this week as Dan O’Brien’s replacement. They evaluated the organization, determining their top priorities. Herzog would like to hire a farm director by Tuesday--with special assignment scout Matt Keough emerging as yet another viable candidate--and move quickly by signing designated hitter Chili Davis and left fielder Luis Polonia to contracts.