Wilhite throws out first pitch against A's

Shaded from the 90-degree heat by the grandstands, Jon Wilhite gripped a new baseball as he stood near the backstop of Angel Stadium before Saturday's game with Oakland.

Wilhite, who survived the car crash that killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two of their friends, Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson, then walked to the pitcher's mound with his family members and relatives of Stewart and Pearson.

Wearing an Angels jersey with "Wilhite" and the number 5 on the back, Wilhite threw a ceremonial first pitch to Angels pitcher John Lackey as the crowd gave the families a standing ovation -- more than four months after the April 9 crash.

Wilhite, 24, suffered extensive injuries in the crash that required three weeks in intensive care and an arduous rehabilitation.

"The cool thing was I wasn't out there by myself; the other families were out there with me," Wilhite said. "I also felt like Henry, Nick and Courtney were out there with me. I was just excited."

The ceremony was another "part of trying to move forward," said Angels Manager Mike Scioscia. "Jon feels very blessed to be in the position to get out here. It's a miracle he's alive."

Last month, Wilhite also threw out a ceremonial first pitch when the Angels played the Athletics in Oakland.

He tossed that one to close friend and Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki, who played baseball with Wilhite at Cal State Fullerton and has helped raise money to defray Wilhite's medical and rehab costs.

Before Saturday's game, Suzuki said "it's definitely going to be an emotional night" for the families, "the first time coming back [to Anaheim] since everything that happened."

But Suzuki said Wilhite was "excited, he's looking forward to it," and that "it's going to be great for the fans to see how he's doing, and how well he's doing. It's pretty impressive where he's at right now."

Kazmir will suit up

Newly acquired pitcher Scott Kazmir likely will make his first start for the Angels on Wednesday against the Mariners in Seattle, Scioscia said.

Kazmir, a two-time All-Star that the Angels acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade Friday, was scheduled to suit up with the club today, Scioscia said.

In the meantime, Kazmir's fully stocked locker -- including a pressed No. 22 uniform -- awaited his arrival in the Angels' clubhouse, his spot located between the lockers of fellow starting pitchers Lackey and Jered Weaver.

"We're most likely going to fold him into the rotation on Wednesday," Scioscia said, adding that he welcomed the left-hander to the team by telephone Saturday.

"It's good to give Scott a little breather to get an orientation here, where he can throw [a] bullpen [session] tomorrow and just get acclimated," he said.

Kazmir, 25, is 8-7 this season with a 5.92 earned-run average. He returned from the disabled list June 27 after missing 33 games because of a strained right quadriceps muscle.

He beat Toronto in his most recent start, holding the Blue Jays to one run in six innings and striking out a season-high 10 batters.

"He's just started to get into his stuff in the last, probably, month, and he's starting to pitch the way he can," Scioscia said.

Short hops

Kendry Morales on Friday night became the third player in Angels history to have at least five hits, two home runs and six runs batted in one game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The others were Mo Vaughn in 1999 and Dave Winfield in 1991. . . . The Angels entered Saturday's game having averaged 5.7 runs, highest in the major leagues. . . . After ending their homestand today, the Angels travel to Seattle and Kansas City before returning home to face Seattle again at Angel Stadium on Sept. 8.



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