Shields takes All-Star precautions

Despite a 1.87 ERA in nearly 40 outings this season, reliever Scot Shields would seem to be a long shot to make the AL All-Star team. That still has not prevented Shields from protecting his chances of earning his first All-Star nod. Shields refuses to talk about anything All-Star related out of fear it might jinx his chances.

The last two years, Shields looked like he was potentially All-Star worthy. And in both years, a reporter asked him about making his first All-Star squad. On that same day in both years, Shields had an incredibly brutal outing that led to a defeat. So now, Shields quickly deflects any All-Star talk. He figures it not only will help his chances of going to San Francisco on July 10, it also will help prevent another defeat for his team. Talk about the lengths some guys will go to.

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Gorneault recalled

Nick Gorneault was recalled today to take Shea Hillenbrand’s spot on the roster. Hillenbrand was designated for assignment Thursday and the Angels have eight more days to trade him or release him outrigh. Gorneault was batting just .220 at Triple-A Salt Lake but did have 10 home runs and 29 RBI in 78 games. He also had 11 steals.

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travel warriors

The Angels’ road trip from Baltimore to Texas to New York that begins Friday will log the team 8,385 air miles. Had the schedule required the Angels to go to Texas first then Baltimore and New York it would have been 2,598 miles less, or five hours less flying.
And to think, this isn’t manager Mike Scioscia’s biggest gripe with the schedule. Scioscia doesn’t like that the Angels will be playing out-of-division opponents as late as a week and a half before the season ends.

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Willits sets record straight

Knowing how legends can grow, Reggie Willits took some time to clear up one particular matter. It seems like the story about how he ended up as No. 77 is taking on a life of its own. In a recent sidebar in ESPN’s magazine, Willits was praised for his rookie success. But the story happened to mention how Willits wears No. 77 as a tribute to Mickey Mantle, who wore No. 7 with the Yankees. That would be incorrect. Willits actually wears his number because it is double the number Kenny Lofton wore when Lofton was setting himself apart as the ideal leadoff man years ago with the Cleveland Indians. Willits was growing up when Lofton was running wild with the Indians and Willits patterned his early game after Lofton.

Willits doesn’t blame the guy at ESPN. He probably got the Mantle story from another publication that made the leap on its own in a previous article. Willits said he knows how it must have happened. Mantle was a native of Oklahoma and was offered a football scholarship by the University of Oklahoma (he signed with the Yankees instead). Willits also was born and raised in Oklahoma and actually did become a Sooner where he played baseball.

As for the Mantle story, it never really did bother Willits. “He was a great player too,” Willits said. He just figured he would set the record straight.

For an entertaining read on what Willits’ success has meant to the Angels, see the feature story from the L.A. Newspaper Group’s Paul Oberjuerge titled “Big little Angel.”

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