March 2011

It’s showtime!

Ah, Opening Day. There’s nothing quite like it. I remember my first one, in 1999 with the Twins. You’re out there on the line, next to home plate, and standing there it kind of hits you. This is really happening. You’re in the big leagues getting to start on Opening Day.

This is my 13th Opening Day, so it’s something I’ve gotten kind of used to now. It’s really all about the young guys, getting their first taste of it. The Angels have some great kids. Peter Bourjos, Jordan Walden, Mark Trumbo, Michael Kohn, Hank Conger . . . this first one is something you’ll never forget.

It’s like the first day of the rest of their career, even though they’ve been here later in the season for some games. This is different. You’ve got the stands full, all the excitement. You know a plane’s going to fly overhead. In 10 years you’ll remember what it felt like standing on that line, all the anxiety you felt.

It’s good to have a nice blend of older guys and young guys, and that’s what we have here. Bobby Abreu, Vernon Wells, myself, some of the pitchers, we can kind of guide and lead all these younger guys. I really like our team, the chemistry we have here. These guys want to get this thing going and show what we can do.

Getting that first game out of the way reminds me of playing football in high school, when I’d come to the line of scrimmage for the first time – the cadence, taking the snap, taking off on an option, getting drilled by a linebacker. Then, after that, it was on. That first hit took away all the butterflies and it was time to compete.

That’s how it is with this first game. You want ideally to get a hit that first at-bat, so you can settle in and just play. You don’t want to be fighting for that first hit one too long. As you get older, you know everything eventually takes care of itself. But when you’re a young guy, everything is heightened, all of your senses. You want to succeed so much.

All right, time to get my game face on now. It’s cold out there, but it’s time to go to work. We’ve got a goal, a mission. This is the first of 162. It’s on.   

(more…)

Inspired by `The Greatest’

It’s too bad we can’t have Muhammad Ali come visit us in the clubhouse every day. We might go undefeated!

The Greatest of All Time arrived before our game on Wednesday, and it was like the king of the world paying a visit. There’s nobody like him. He has such a presence, it’s like he’s glowing.

I’ve been around a lot of big stars and celebrities, but he stands all alone. Michael Jordan could walk in and I’d say, hey, that’s cool. But Ali walks in and the whole room comes to a stop. Everybody gets real quiet and just looks at him, knowing you’re in the presence of history.

I’ve met him before. He autographed a picture of us with a little message to me. It’s something I’ll definitely keep for the rest of my life.

When he sat in a chair in the middle of the clubhouse, not far from where I sit between Brandon Wood and Vernon Wells, I was the first to jump up and come over and see him. I’m not shy.

I just told him how great it was to see him again and how much I admire him, that kind of thing. I know he loves to do this. They tell me he really lights up when kids come around and see him. Ali loves kids and ice cream.

One by one all the players came over and shook his hand, said hello. His wife and her sister were with him, and we all talked with them. Very nice, very gracious women. You could see how awed all the players were, especially the young guys. It was like they couldn’t believe Muhammad Ali was actually here.

Ali gave us so much in his life. He’s a man who always stood for what he believed in, and you have to respect that. And he was fearless. He fought ‘em all, from Liston to Foreman to Frazier, toe to toe.

After we saw him, we went out and scored five runs in the first inning and shut out the Giants. We were inspired, truly. It’s not every day a legend like Muhammad Ali, the greatest, comes to visit and you can feel his presence.

Now if only we could bottle that feeling and carry it with us all season . . .

We break camp on Saturday, the veterans, and head back to Southern California for a few days and a few more exhibitions before opening up on Thursday in Kansas City. We’re ready for a big season, I believe. We’re going to be a lot better than last year. I love our chances.

It’s going to be exciting at Angel Stadium, especially with the big 50th anniversary celebration and all the great players from the team’s past showing up to throw out the first pitch and hang out with us. Another season is just about on!
    

Inspired by `The Greatest’

It’s too bad we can’t have Muhammad Ali come visit us in the clubhouse every day. We might go undefeated!

The Greatest of All Time arrived before our game on Wednesday, and it was like the king of the world paying a visit. There’s nobody like him. He has such a presence, it’s like he’s glowing.

I’ve been around a lot of big stars and celebrities, but he stands all alone. Michael Jordan could walk in and I’d say, hey, that’s cool. But Ali walks in and the whole room comes to a stop. Everybody gets real quiet and just looks at him, knowing you’re in the presence of history.

I’ve met him before. He autographed a picture of us with a little message to me. It’s something I’ll definitely keep for the rest of my life.

When he sat in a chair in the middle of the clubhouse, not far from where I sit between Brandon Wood and Vernon Wells, I was the first to jump up and come over and see him. I’m not shy.

I just told him how great it was to see him again and how much I admire him, that kind of thing. I know he loves to do this. They tell me he really lights up when kids come around and see him. Ali loves kids and ice cream.

One by one all the players came over and shook his hand, said hello. His wife and her sister were with him, and we all talked with them. Very nice, very gracious women. You could see how awed all the players were, especially the young guys. It was like they couldn’t believe Muhammad Ali was actually here.

Ali gave us so much in his life. He’s a man who always stood for what he believed in, and you have to respect that. And he was fearless. He fought ‘em all, from Liston to Foreman to Frazier, toe to toe.

After we saw him, we went out and scored five runs in the first inning and shut out the Giants. We were inspired, truly. It’s not every day a legend like Muhammad Ali, the greatest, comes to visit and you can feel his presence.

Now if only we could bottle that feeling and carry it with us all season . . .

We break camp on Saturday, the veterans, and head back to Southern California for a few days and a few more exhibitions before opening up on Thursday in Kansas City. We’re ready for a big season, I believe. We’re going to be a lot better than last year. I love our chances.

It’s going to be exciting at Angel Stadium, especially with the big 50th anniversary celebration and all the great players from the team’s past showing up to throw out the first pitch and hang out with us. Another season is just about on!
    

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