The incentive for Phil Leftwich to win the fifth spot in the Angels’ starting rotation usually is heard in his Phoenix home about 2 a.m., or 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. It’s the sleep-shattering wail of a baby in need of a bottle or a clean diaper.
“Having to pay for four college educations has rejuvenated me quite a bit,” said Leftwich, who sat out most of the 1995 season while recovering from shoulder surgery.
When Leftwich learned his wife, Ann, was pregnant with their second child (their first, Luke, is 2) in early 1995, he figured he would have to start college funds for two children.
But the second had company. Ann delivered triplets (a boy and two girls) on Nov. 16.
“We’ve shipped in every family member we can and have a couple of girls who help us, and it’s still overwhelming,” Leftwich said. “We go through 25-30 diapers a day and three large cans of formula. There’s never enough time to sleep. . . . With one baby you can take turns, take breaks, but with three, you’re on call 24 hours a day.”
Leftwich, who will compete with Shawn Boskie, Scott Sanderson, Jason Grimsley and Dennis Springer for the final spot in the rotation, hasn’t pitched for the Angels since 1994, when he was 5-10 with a 5.68 earned-run average.
Simply being injury-free for the first time in two years has also helped Leftwich, a 26-year-old right-hander. “I feel like I’m 100%,” he said. “I’ve been airing out my pitches for a while now, because I wanted to come to camp game-ready or as close as possible. I feel confident. I like my chances.”