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A numbers game at Angels' camp

March 1, 2011 | 10:55 am

Number_400 You can't tell the players without a program this spring in Tempe, where a number of Angels players and coaches are wearing new numbers.

Slugging first baseman Mark Trumbo started last spring wearing uniform No. 24, then changed to No. 37 when he was called up from the minors in September. Both those numbers are gone now with pitcher Dan Haren wearing No. 24 and new reliever Scott Downs donning No. 37. Both are veterans, meaning they had first choice of numbers. So Trumbo went with No. 44, abandoned when Mike Napoli was dealt in the Vernon Wells' trade.

"We went to dinner the other night, and he said  just do your best to represent. Represent that number well," Trumbo said of Napoli, who is in Arizona with the Texas Rangers.

Reminded that No. 44 is one associated with power hitters such as Willie McCovey, Reggie Jackson and Hank Aaron, Trumbo smiled and said, "Seems like a pretty good number to go with."

Trumbo tied for the minor league lead with 36 homers last season.

Other Angels sporting new numbers include third base coach Dino Ebel, who gave No. 21 to reliever Hisanori Takahashi. Ebel simply reversed the digits and is now No. 12. Wells, meanwhile, found the No. 10 he wore in Toronto abandoned when bench coach Ron Roenicke left to become manager of the Milwaukee Brewers.

In addition, seniority in major league camp helped some players abandon jersey numbers usually associated with a football lineup for something more appropriate to baseball. Catcher Hank Conger, No. 64 last spring, is wearing Garret Anderson's No. 16 now. Pitchers Ryan Chaffee and Tyler Chatwood -- Nos. 89 and 90 a year ago -- are wearing 41 and 52, respectively. Right-hander Trevor Bell has given up No. 70 for No. 22.

For minor league outfielder Kevin Witherspoon, what it says on the back of the uniform isn't as important as what it says on the front. Witherspoon, a non-roster invitee, has No. 92 on his back, but the front looks major league all the way.

A uniform with a big number, he said, is better than no uniform at all.

-- Kevin Baxter in Tempe, Ariz.

Photo: Hisanori Takahashi. Credit: Kyle Terada / US Presswire