Ramon Ortiz pitches against his baseball hero tonight. He hopes to pitch in front of his first hero during the winter.
Ortiz, nicknamed "Little Pedro" because his slight frame and lively fastball evoke comparisons to fellow Dominican Pedro Martinez, starts against Martinez and the Boston Red Sox tonight. In their only previous meeting, two years ago, Ortiz pitched what he calls "the best game I've pitched in the majors," a two-hitter in a 2-1 victory.
His biggest fan will be back home in the Dominican Republic, where his father is seriously ill with emphysema. Every two weeks, as soon as he gets his paycheck, Ortiz remits money to the Dominican to pay for his father's medical care.
"My father is my life," he said. "My family is my life."
Doctors have told his father that he could live for months or years, Ortiz said, depending in part on whether he stops smoking. So that his father could see him pitch, and because he is too weak to travel, Ortiz pitched one game in the Dominican's last winter league season.
He hopes to do it again this winter. However, the four-year contract he signed in March--one that could be worth $11.65 million--forbids him from pitching winter ball. Ortiz said he hopes the Angels will waive the clause so he can pitch one game in front of his father. General Manager Bill Stoneman said he would not discuss the issue publicly but would be happy to do so with Ortiz.
"He can do it better. He has the tools," Martinez said. "Pretty soon, he'll realize he wants to be him and become better than me."
Catcher Bengie Molina completed a strenuous workout and is scheduled to play for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga tonight. If Molina reports no discomfort Wednesday, the Angels plan to activate him Thursday, after the minimum 15-day stay on the disabled list. The Angels expected him to sit out at least one month and possibly two when he suffered a partially torn hamstring July 16.
(9-7, 3.85 ERA)
(13-2, 2.50 ERA)
Edison Field, 7
TV--Fox Sports Net.
Radio--KLAC (570), XPRS (1090).
Update--Triple-A Salt Lake outfielder Robb Quinlan hit for the cycle and drove in seven runs Sunday. Quinlan leads the Pacific Coast League with a .344 batting average and 89 runs batted in. The Angels have sold more than 40,000 tickets for games Friday and Saturday against the New York Yankees. The games could sell out today.