Victor Rojas will take over play-by-play duties on Angels’ TV broadcasts

Times Staff Writer

Victor Rojas, once a pitcher in the Angels’ minor league system and son of Cookie Rojas, once manager of the Angels, was named Wednesday as the new television play-by-play voice of the team.

Rojas, 42, is leaving MLB Network to fill the spot left by Rory Markas, who died unexpectedly in January.

Rojas will work with analyst Mark Gubicza on FS West and Channel 13 broadcasts. Before joining MLB Network when it launched in December 2008, Rojas worked for the Texas Rangers for five years, handling play-by-play and analyst roles.

“The Angels have always held a special place in my heart,” Rojas said. “While I’m thrilled to be joining such an incredible organization, it’s difficult to focus on my feelings knowing that the position was available only because of the untimely passing of a wonderful person and broadcaster in Rory.”

Rojas, who is married and has two children, also did broadcast work for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2003 and the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League. He was born in Miami and mostly raised in Overland Park, Kan. (when his dad played for the Royals).

He played college baseball at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert and at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho.

On the radio side, Terry Smith will handle play-by-play with Jose Mota serving as analyst.

Morales in camp

Angels first baseman Kendry Morales, after reporting late to spring training because of an immigration issue, declined Wednesday to discuss details about a reported disappearance of $300,000 from his bank account.

But the Cuban-born slugger did say that the financial matter played a role in his recent decision to switch management firms and hire well-known agent Scott Boras.

A recent report on said the missing money had led both the players’ union and the Coral Springs (Fla.) Police Department to question Rodney Fernandez, a former employee of Hendrick Sports Management who recruited Morales to the firm. Fernandez has denied any wrongdoing.

Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Assn., confirmed during a recent visit to the Angels’ spring-training facility in Tempe, Ariz., that “we’re involved in the investigation” and that it is common for the union to assist a player “when there are allegations of potential wrongdoing by an agent or somebody connected with an agent. I can’t say anything more about that.”

Morales, speaking through an interpreter at Tempe Diablo Stadium, said that although he previously had held talks with Boras, “I never thought about anything until this took place, and then that was a good time for me to make a switch.”

But the delay in Morales’ arrival at camp until Tuesday afternoon had “nothing to do with the agent,” Morales said. Rather, Morales said he had to wait until Feb. 4 to apply for a new work visa and it was “just the time it took to get my paperwork back.”

Morales, 26, said he has been in the Phoenix area since Feb. 22 and, while not playing baseball, has been running and working out in a gym to stay in shape. “I feel like I’m going to be ready physically and mentally to play opening day” on April 5, he said.

The Angels are glad to have him back. Morales had a strong season last year, batting .306 with 108 runs batted in and 34 home runs — a club record for home runs by a switch-hitter.

Morales wasn’t ready to play in the team’s intrasquad game Wednesday and is unlikely to appear in the team’s opening spring game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday in Tempe, but “he’ll get caught up,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Short hops

The Angels plan to start newly acquired right-handed pitcher Joel Pineiro against the White Sox in their Cactus League opener, and he’ll probably throw about 30 pitches, Scioscia said. … Other Angels expected to see action early in the game include infielders Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and Brandon Wood. … The Angels play the Colorado Rockies on Friday and have back-to-back games against the Oakland A’s this weekend.

Pucin reported from Los Angeles and Peltz from Tempe, Ariz.