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Angels’ ‘diaper dandies’ among youngest rosters in baseball

April 6, 2011 | 11:29 am

Jvqozrnc Dick Vitale, a college basketball analyst for ESPN as well as a Tampa Bay Rays' season-ticket holder, was seated in the front row next to the Angels' dugout during Wednesday's game at Tropicana Field. On TV, Vitale popularized the phrase "diaper dandies" to describe young but exceptionally talented players. And that's a term that could be applied to the Angels as well.

The team has a rookie closer, a rookie first baseman and a regular starter in center field who had less than two months of big-league experience coming into the season. Plus none of the pitchers in the starting rotation is older than 30.

“It’s a youthful, talented group that we have high expectations for, blended with some very, very good -– some terrific -- veteran players,” Angels Coach Mike Scioscia said. “It’s a great blend.”

And with an average age of 28.3 years, it’s also the fifth-youngest roster in baseball and the franchise’s youngest since the World Series year of 2002 -- though the average age of that team was skewed a bit by a handful of September call-ups.

“Last year, we were young for a while,” Scioscia said. “This year, there are some young guys that are getting an opportunity and are going to be important to us.”

Youth may not be served for long, however. The Angels’ roster will age some with the return of 35-year-old reliever Scott Downs and 32-year-old right-hander Joel Pineiro from the disabled list, which is expected to happen later this month.

Scioscia said Downs will make a minor-league rehab appearance for San Bernardino in the 66ers' California League opener with Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. Downs likely will need a second minor-league outing before being cleared to rejoin the Angels' bullpen, Scioscia said.


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-- Kevin Baxter in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Photo: Dick Vitale. Credit: Jack Dempsey / AP