Angels draw a crowd in center field
Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter have spent nearly their entire careers in center field, combining to win 12 Gold Glove awards. So it wasn't really a surprise that when the two ran onto the field together for the first time Monday, they wound up in center field again, flanking Peter Bourjos.
"I turned around and I was like, 'Hey, what's going on?' " said Bourjos, who was listed on the lineup card as the center fielder.
The two veterans told him they weren't ready to give up their position, so Bourjos volunteered to move to right before his teammates told him they were only joking. That outfield alignment probably won't be funny to Angels opponents this season.
'"For us, as a group, our job is make our pitchers happy," Wells said. "Any ball goes in the air, any ball that goes in the gap, it’s a matter of not letting balls get to the wall. Cutting balls off as much as we can. Just keeping baserunners from taking extra bases.
"If we can do that –- which we’re very capable of doing –- we’re going to take a lot of pressure off our pitching staff."
Said Joel Pineiro, Monday's starting pitcher: "Having that speed out there, it's like having three center fielders."
But for Wells, who spent his entire 12-year big-league career in Toronto before being traded to the Angels this winter, there is still one more hurdle to clear.
"Once the season comes, I hope I don’t run to the wrong dugout," he said. "I probably will."
-- Kevin Baxter in Tempe, Ariz.