Angels to select at No. 58

The Angels’ first selection in Thursday’s free-agent draft will be at No 58 overall. The Angels lost their first-round pick when they signed free-agent Gary Matthews Jr. this offseason, but get a sandwich pick (a pick between the first and second rounds) at No. 58 after the St. Louis Cardinals signed Adam Kennedy.
The draft will be televised for the first time on ESPN2 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

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Matthews breaks his silence

Although this story appeared in various lengths in L.A. Newspaper Group print editions, here is the full text on what Gary Matthews Jr. had to say Saturday about what he went through this spring when his name was brought up in assoitation with a steriods ring:

By Doug Padilla
Staff Writer

ANAHEIM Silent on the subject since March, Gary Matthews Jr. gave some insight Saturday into his trying spring training when his name surfaced in an alleged connection with a steroids distribution network.
I had so much support from friends and family, Matthews said. We didn’t even talk about it. It was just business as usual. My brothers came out (to Arizona), my dad came out. From the outside looking in it looks like there were all these challenges. But I was just being honest when I sat down and told you guys when I signed my contract that this is just my job. This is just one part of my life.
I really approached it sort of methodical. I have a routine and go through different checkpoints so it always seems normal for me. I go through my routine and don’t switch it up very much and I don’t get concerned with outside affairs. I go and do what I do. There are only certain things I could control.
Those things, for the most part, centered around his preparation and his play on the field. To that extent, Matthews has emerged just fine. Entering Saturday, Matthews had 23 RBIs in his last 23 games, providing more that adequate coverage in the cleanup spot in Garret Anderson’s absence. It is the first time Matthews has batted cleanup in his career.
At the start of Saturday’s game, Matthews was batting .286 with seven home runs and 33 RBI. Then there has been his solid defense in center, one of the major reasons the Angels signed the 32-year-old for five years, $50 million.
That contract earned general manager Bill Stoneman sharp criticism in newspapers and on websites, with many calling the Angels’ offseason the worst in baseball. It also earned sharp criticism from many Angels fans not convinced that Mathews’ one solid season (2006) was worth such a commitment.
When the news broke connecting Matthews with an alleged purchase of a synthetic growth hormone, it only fueled more criticism. Matthews immediately took a no comment stance, but that only angered owner Arte Moreno, who wanted his newest player to address the subject with Angels fans.
All of that and Matthews hadn’t even played a game with the Angels yet. Matthews’ situation appeared to be getting more complicated by the day. But he stuck to his routine, kept his head down and vowed to have a solid season.
I honestly didn’t read anything and I didn’t watch TV aside from sitting in a restaurant a couple of times, Matthews said. We were at Cheesecake Factory sitting with my brother and some friends. Your name flashes up on the screen and you see your face up there. People at the bar are doing double takes.
It’s sort of like the pink elephant sitting in the corner that nobody wants to talk about. But aside from that it was really normal.
From the beginning, Matthews was never in danger of legal repercussions even if he was connected to the situation. Prosecutors said they were only after the suppliers. Matthews eventually went on the record denying his involvement, giving Moreno the statement he was looking for. After that, the buzz slowly faded.
Nobody has said a word, Matthews said. The commissioners office never said a word. MLB never said a word. I didn’t discuss it.
In a sign of how far things have come in three months, Matthews’ chief concern these days centers around manager Mike Scioscia’s decision on what to do with the cleanup spot when Anderson comes off the disabled list. When Anderson returns from the disabled list today, Matthews will indeed be batting cleanup.
It would be nice to find one spot and sort of settle in instead of move around, Matthews said. But I understand. This is Mike’s team and he will do what he feels is best for this team to have an opportunity to win.
I’d like to maybe stay here for a while. I’d like to just stay in one spot. I’ve gotten accustomed to hitting (cleanup) and it’s challenging.

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Matthews gets lesson from dad

Gary Matthews Jr. claimed to have no venom during his key at-bat in Thursday night’s game when he drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a single. His two RBI were the difference in a 3-2 Angels victory. Even though the Orioles walked Vladimir Guerrero to get to Matthews, the Angels center fielder said he understood. If he was a manager, Matthews said he would have walked Guerrero too. He claimed to not take things personally.

But somebody out there noticed that Matthews did, in fact, have an edge about him during his game-winning at-bat. A television viewer on the East Coast called to tell Matthews that he saw things differently.

“My dad, I guess, was watching the game on TV and he said, ‘The intensity you had on your fourth at-bat, that’s what you need to come with for all four at-bats. You didn’t wake up until you got pissed off,’ ” Matthews said of the conversation he had with his father, former major leaguer Gary Matthews. “I’d like to think I brought the same intensity for all four at-bats, but my dad said he thinks he saw something different with the body language and my concentration level. He’s right.

“The cleanup spot is challenging and you really have to take the emotion out of it. There are going to be some ups and downs but it seems like every single at-bat is crucial. It seems like you have at least two at-bats every game where you have a chance to put us up by a run or maybe put the game away or out of reach. I want that challenge, I do.”

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