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Angels to honor Preston Gomez

Angels owner Arte Moreno, left, with Preston Gomez at last year's spring training.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It was strange, and very sad, to go down to the lower fields at the Angels' spring training facility here and not see Preston Gomez, the team's longtime scout, front office executive and coach who died in January at the age of 86.

Gomez was one of the warmest, friendliest baseball men I've come across in my 15 years covering this game, a guy who met my two kids about 12 years ago and asked about them just about every day he saw me over the next decade or so.

One of my favorite parts of spring training was to go down to Field 2 and sit on a dugout bench with Gomez and listen to him spin stories from his six-plus decades in baseball and about his native Cuba before Fidel Castro came into power. I also came to value his opinions and assessments of players, which were always right on.

Gomez, the San Diego Padres' first manager in 1969, never really recovered from a 2008 accident in which he was hit by a truck.

The Angels plan to honor Gomez this season by wearing a black patch, in the shape of a diamond, with the name "Preston" inscribed, on the sleeve of both their home and road jerseys this season.

A classy move.

-- Mike DiGiovanna

Photo: Angels owner Arte Moreno, left, with Preston Gomez at last year's spring training. Credit: Eric Risberg / Associated Press

 
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