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Josh Paul returns to the Angels 12 years after unfortunate play

In the 12 years 4 months since the play happened, Josh Paul’s opinion hasn’t changed.

“I did catch the ball,” he said Sunday. “I caught the ball.”

In an Angels spring-training camp dominated by the arrival of Japanese two-way player Shohei Ohtani, the return of Paul is more than just a passing side note among the new faces.

Involved in one of the most controversial and confusing postseason plays in baseball history while with the Angels, Paul is now the team’s bench coach.

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“I’m proud to put on this uniform,” he said. “I’ve always been proud to put on this uniform. This was my favorite place to play. It feels like coming home.”

In the ninth inning of Game 2 of the 2005 American League Championship Series, Paul, then the Angels’ third string-catcher, thought he had caught strike three for the third out on Chicago’s A.J. Pierzynski.

With the score tied 1-1, Paul rolled the ball back toward the mound, figuring the game was heading into extra innings.

Instead, with the pitch from Kelvim Escobar having come in low, umpire Doug Eddings ruled that it had hit the dirt, allowing Pierzynski to reach first base.

The White Sox won the game when Joe Crede doubled, swept the next three games from the Angels and beat Houston in four games to win the World Series.

“If I had to do it again, I’d tag him to make sure,” Paul said. “There was confusion on the play. I probably could have helped the umpire out. I could have helped out Doug. Just to say, ‘Hey, I do have the ball.’ Tag him. ‘OK, let’s move on.’ ”

Despite how painful the memory is for Angels fans, Paul has revisited it more often than you might think and for reasons other than to brood.

As the organizational catching instructor for the New York Yankees, Paul said he frequently referenced the incident as a lesson.

“We talk about making sure the play’s over,” Paul said. “I’ve used it as an example to make sure guys finish the play.”

Other than that, the memory for Paul is apparently as buried in the past as the idea of the Angels advancing in the playoffs. The franchise has won one postseason series after 2005 and none since 2009.

“Are you asking me if I lose sleep over it?” Paul said. “It’s been, what, 15 years or something? How many days is that? Like 4,000, 5,000? Come on, let’s keep it moving forward.”

Free-agent signings

Having traded C.J. Cron and his potential power Saturday, the Angels acquired potential power and depth Sunday.

They signed outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, $2-million deal and Chris Carter to a minor league contract that would pay him $1.75 million if he is on the big league roster. Carter has been a first baseman, outfielder and designed hitter.

The team traded Cron to Tampa Bay for a player to be named. Just hours after completing that deal, Angels general manager Billy Eppler was busy again.

Young, 34 and a 12-year veteran, hit .235 with seven home runs in 90 games last season with Boston.

Carter, 31, tied for the National League lead with 41 home runs for Milwaukee in 2016 and batted .222. He also led the league with 206 strikeouts.

He batted .201 with eight home runs in 184 at-bats before being released by the Yankees in July.

sports@latimes.com


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