It was a morning of extreme emotional swings for the Angels, who reflected somberly on a pair of bronze statues honoring the late Nick Adenhart and Preston Gomez and, half an hour later, broke out in raucous laughter at a surprise visit from the Harlem Globetrotters.
The latter was the brainchild of Manager Mike Scioscia, whose prank-filled spring-training meetings have become legendary, and center fielder Torii Hunter, who has performed in several skits with the world-famous basketball team.
The former was the work of Scioscia and Angels President John Carpino, who commissioned Missouri-based sculptor Harry Weber to produce the statues of Adenhart, the 22-year-old pitcher killed in a car accident last April, and Gomez, the former special advisor who died at 86 in January 2009. Carpino met Weber at last summer’s All-Star game in St. Louis.
The Adenhart piece, which shows the right-hander’s follow-through after releasing a pitch, and the bust of Gomez in his trademark Panama hat were placed on a table in the middle of the clubhouse by former Angels outfielder Tim Salmon, who is a guest instructor this week.
One by one, players admired the statues Friday, marveling at the likeness to their subjects. The pieces will be displayed in an Angel Stadium trophy case this season, and smaller versions are being produced to commemorate awards named in the men’s honor.
“Wow, those are amazing,” reliever Jason Bulger said. “Seeing Preston and Nick brings back some really strong emotions. Geez, I don’t know how an artist can duplicate somebody that well. Those are absolutely gorgeous ... those are two special pieces right there.”
Jered Weaver won the first Nick Adenhart Award as the team’s top pitcher last season, and rookie-league Manager Tom Kotchman won the Preston Gomez minor-league manager of the year award.
“It’s definitely an honor to receive that,” Weaver said. “It obviously resembles him to the max. That’s definitely his pitching motion. ... You stare at it a bit, and his facial features pop out at you. Whoever put that together is definitely good at what they do.”
The mood lightened considerably during the morning meeting, the topic of which was provided by right fielder Bobby Abreu’s ownership of a struggling professional basketball team in his native Venezuela.
As Scioscia spoke of the team’s need for better players, in strode six members of the Globetrotters wearing blue warmup suits, toting their red-white-and-blue ball and performing the tricks that have made them famous.
The laughter was loud enough to be heard outside the closed clubhouse doors, and the Globetrotters’ theme song, “Sweet Georgia Brown,” and rhythmic clapping could be heard from inside the room.
“We were entertained,” said Hunter, who has a connection with the team and was scheduled to be part of a skit at the Globetrotters’ performance Friday night in Glendale, Ariz. “We were like little kids with our mouths open.”
Abreu was surprised and impressed by the visit.
“You see them on TV all the time,” he said, “And then they’re right here.”
Reliever Fernando Rodney, limited to long-tossing because of a pair of sore shins, was examined Thursday and was cleared to begin throwing off a mound Friday. Scioscia said Rodney, signed to be the team’s setup man, could pitch in an exhibition game “within the next week.”
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Colorado 7, Angels 5
AT THE PLATE: Maicer Izturis’ first spring game in the leadoff spot was productive -- the shortstop singled and walked twice in three plate appearances. The only hit of note by an Angels regular was Torii Hunter’s laser of a double off the left-field wall in the third inning. Michael Ryan’s two-run single and Terry Evans’ RBI single highlighted a four-run fifth for the Angels.
ON THE MOUND: Starter Sean O’Sullivan was roughed up for five runs and four hits, including solo home runs by Clint Barmes and Cole Garner and a two-run triple by Ian Stewart, in 11/3 innings. Closer Brian Fuentes couldn’t complete his inning. He allowed two hits, including Miguel Olivo’s run-scoring double, walked one and struck out two in a 28-pitch third. Top pitching prospect Trevor Reckling gave up four hits but struck out three in two innings.
EXTRA BASES: Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who drove his own car from Tucson to Tempe, was scratched from his scheduled start after he got stuck in traffic for three hours because of an accident on Interstate 10 south of Phoenix. Jimenez arrived in time to start the fourth inning and allowed four runs -- three earned --and three hits in two innings. Thanks for coming, and drive safely on your way home.
UP NEXT: Jered Weaver will start Saturday’s noon (PST) game against the Oakland Athletics in Phoenix.
ON THE AIR: Radio: 830.
-- Mike DiGiovanna