Angels Opening Day tidbits to ponder

With the Angels set to open the season Monday at Minnesota, here are a few things to consider, with all facts compliments of the team’s PR departmant.

ABOUT OPENING DAY: Angels open their 48th campaign vs. the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome…It will mark just the fifth time in the last 17 seasons opening on the road for the Halos…Angels have won last four Opening Day games…Club last played Twins on Opening Day in 1994 (8-2 win at Metrodome) and square off against Minnesota to open season for third time overall (’85 &’94)…Angels are 25-22, 15-14 at home and 10-8 on road all-time on Opening Day.

MARCH SADNESS: Tonight the Angels play their third ever regular season game in March…Angels opened the season on March 30, 2003 at Texas (3-6 loss) and March 31, 2002 vs. Cleveland (0-6 loss). VS. TWINS: Halos have a four-game win streak vs. Twins…Angels have won last five season series vs. Twins…Angels claimed 2007 season series 6-3, winning five of six games at home and one of three on the road…Angels swept Twins in last meeting, Aug. 10-12, 2007 at Angel Stadium…Angels’ 328 total victories vs. Minnesota are most for Angels against any opponent.

TOUGH SLEDDING: Angels play 18 of first 30 games against Cleveland, Oakland, Seattle, Boston and Detroit, all contending teams in 2007.

DID YOU KNOW? Angels have won 157 consecutive games when leading after eight innings, the longest current streak in Majors (last time Angels lost when leading after eight innings was April 19, 2006 at Twins).

GEHRIG & GUERRERO: Vlad Guerrero has batted at least .300 with 25 home runs in each of the last 10 seasons…Only player with more consecutive seasons with those numbers in Lou Gehrig who did it in 11 straight campaigns from 1927-37.

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Angels set 25-man roster

As expected, the Angels put John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Scot Shields and Chris Bootcheck on the 15-day disabled list. They also set the Opening Day roster after making a number of moves.

Nine players were reassigned to minor-league camp: RHP Nick Adenhart, RHP Alex Serrano, INF Hainley Statia, OF Terry Evans, INF Brandon Wood, C Ryan Budde, C Bobby Wilson, INF Kendry Morales, OF Dee Brown

Following is a look at the Angels 2008 Opening Day Roster:

Pitchers: Jason Bulger, Jon Garland Dustin Moseley, Darren O’Day, Darren Oliver, Francisco Rodriguez, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, Justin Speier, Rich Thompson, Jered Weaver.

Catchers: Mike Napoli, Jeff Mathis

Infielders: Erick Aybar, hone Figgins, Maicer Izturis, Howie Kendrick, Casey Kotchman, Robb Quinlan

Outfielders: Garret Anderson, Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, Gary Matthews Jr., Juan Rivera, Reggie Willits.

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Angels' Haynes claimed by D-Rays

The Angels tried to slip speedy outfielder Nathan Haynes through waivers in order to send him to Triple-A Salt Lake, but former Angels bench coach Joe Maddon was there waiting. Maddon, now the manager at Tampa Bay, will have Haynes in the fold now after the Devil Rays claimed him.

In 40 games with the Angels last season, Haynes batted .267 with 10 runs scored. He was on the roster for much of last season partially because if the Angels tried to send him back down he would have had to clear waivers.

Haynes’ biggest contribution last season might have come through his close friendship with Chone Figgins. After coming off the disabled list last year, Figgins started slow but started to get hot at the plate once Haynes was recalled to the team.

The Angels 40-man roster is now at 38. One player expected to be added to that 40-man roster is reliever Darren O’Day.

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Preston Gomez improving

Preston Gomez, who has spent a lifetime in baseball as a player coach and front-ofice executive, has shown improvment after being involved in what was being called a freak accident Wednesday. Gomez, 86, who is a special assistant in the Angels front office, was driving home from spring training early Wednesday morning when he stopped for gas in Blythe. At the gas station he ended up walking into the path of a pickup truck that was pulling in to refuel. Gomez suffered a fractured skull and was airlifted to a Palm Springs hospital.

He was initially considered to be in very serious condition, but Thursday he opened his eyes and recognized family members. No surgery was necessary, although he did recieve two units of blood Thursday.

“There is a tremendous amount of optimism,” Angels spokesman Tim Mead said.

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Your name in Angels lights

The Angels are making it easier than ever for fans to post messages on the scoreboard during games. For a fee of $30 ($25 of which goes to charity), the Angels will put a birthday, anniversary, congratulations or welcome message on the scoreboard that will appear in the middle of the fourth inning. And of course, fans can pick what day they want their message to appear. For more information, see the Angels’ website.

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Preston Gomez in critical condition

Preston Gomez, a longtime fixture in baseball, was in critical condition Wednesday after being struck by a motorist at a Blythe gas station. Gomez, who was set to be the special assistant to general manager Tony Reagins, was returning from spring training at the time. Gomez is always quick with a handshake or a hello to anybody he sees, and his situation so troubled manager Mike Scioscia that he did not have a comment for reporters today. Gomez was airlifted to a Palm Springs hospital.

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A bright O'Day

The Angels’ surprisingly successful submarine right-hander has been afraid to raise his periscope, just in case it gives him a glimpse of reality.

Invited to camp late and then told he really wouldn’t have a chance of making the major-league roster, O’Day simply put his head down and went to work. The news was neither disappointing nor something that lit his fire. He simply settled into a comfort zone and has found nothing but success.

The surprise of camp has a 1.35 ERA over 13 1/3 innings over seven outings (before Friday’s night game against the Rangers) and is the favorite to make the Opening Day roster in the bullpen role of Chris Bootcheck, currently on the shelf with an oblique strain.

I was just excited to be here, the 25-year-old O’Day said. I was just trying to make a good impression never imagining that things might happen where they might need somebody up there. But certainly that’s why we all play to one day get up there. But I never dreamed it in my wildest dreams.

Excuse O’Day if if his major-league expectations are on the conservative side. This is a guy that was cut as a freshman at the University of Florida and figured he would instead dive into his studies.

Then a former high-school teammate invited O’Day to play in a Jacksonville recreation league and it was there that the stuff of legends was born. Because of the casual atmosphere of the league, O’Day figured he would try a sidearm delivery. When his velocity improved and the movement of his pitches increased, O’Day went back to the coaching staff at Florida looking for another tryout.

After I saw what I could do I thought I could make that team with this delivery, O’Day said. I knew that the college team needed a side-armer. They didn’t have any and I saw others on teams in the league. When I played in college, every team in the SEC at least one team had a sidearmer.

By his senior season, O’Day dominated as Florida’s closer, not that anybody thought he could pitch on the next level. He wasn’t even drafted, but in May of 2006 he signed a free-agent contract with the Angels.

At least O’Day believed in himself. He put off medical school to give baseball a chance and has no regrets. And then came some fateful words from an unlikely source.

I talked to the dean and I was going to apply to our med school, but he said don’t apply because you’re waisting your money. If you get accepted and go play baseball you’ll never get accepted again, O’Day said. It’s so competitive they don’t want me to take up a spot.

He signed with the Angels instead and continued to pitch like he was still in the SEC. He had a 2.51 ERA in 14 games at Orem, a 2.70 ERA in 17 games at Cedar Rapids, a 0.75 ERA in 24 games at Rancho Cucamonga to start last season and a 3.99 ERA in 29 games at Double-A Arkansas to end the 2007 season.

Double-A figured to be his destination this year, but now O’Day’s father might get to watch his boy pitch in the big leagues.

He actually likes baseball more than I do, O’Day said about his father. He loves to have something to watch. We talked about it. He said, ‘You now what, you should give this a try.’ And now it’s paid off for him because he had four years of college baseball to watch and now he gets to fly out here and watch some spring training.

O’Day’s father better make it to Minneapolis at the end of the month when the Angels open the season against the Twins. Anybody who likes baseball that much is going to love watching his son make his major-league debut.

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Dog days of spring

The Angels quickly extinguished a little dust up in the clubhouse this morning as Darren Oliver took exception to the actions of fellow reliever Justin Speier. Call it that time of the spring when players are ready to break camp and have been stuck in a room with each other for far too long. Speier picked up a box of items belonging to Oliver and ceremoniously dumped them on the floor. His actions drew one or two awkward laughs at best. Oliver picked up his things quietly but then yelled an expletive at Speier as the two stood face to face. A couple of teammates, including Dustin Moseley and Gary Matthews Jr., separated the two. They then proceeded to sit next to each other in silence before the doors were closed for the morning meeting.

Manager Mike Scioscia was not present for the incident but downplayed it as expected, saying that the two were even laughing about it in the meeting. Scioscia said Oliver and Speier are as close as brothers and when told about the matter he thought the pair must have been joking.

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Tunes to get you in the mood

Just came across this in the e-mail in basket. It seems that to get into the mood of the upcoming baseball season, XM radio is going all out to fire up subscribers. On March 29 and 30, the satellite radio service will offer 48 hours of songs, literature and classic play-by-play calls. All of it will air on XM Channel 120. Yes, XM will air 412 songs about baseball, 27 songs about players, seven dramatic readings of baseball stories and some classic game action.

Sounds like a clever little idea but let’s hope this doesn’t go mainstream. Christmas carols starting in November is bad enough. Who needs to hear “Casey at the Bat” through the entire month of March in every retail setting and restaurant you set foot in?

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