ANAHEIM, Calif. — The circumstances surrounding their 2014 debuts in Tuesday night’s game couldn’t have been more different for Stefen Romero and Corey Hart.
For Romero, it was the first start of his major-league career. He admittedly felt goose bumps on opening night in amazement of the entire spectacle. So thinking about stepping into a big-league batter’s box to face All-Star pitcher C.J. Wilson in his first big-league at-bat gave him butterflies.
“I feel like I will be a little nervous,” he said pregame. “But after that first pitch, that first fly ball, that first hit, it will be smooth sailing from there, hopefully.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon offered a little advice to him during early batting practice.
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“He said to stay aggressive and don’t change what you’ve been doing or what got you here in the first place,” Romero said.
While Romero was making the first start of what he hopes will be a long career, Hart was making a start that signified his career wasn’t over.
The last time he played in a major-league game was Oct. 1, 2012 for the Milwaukee Brewers. He missed all of the 2013 season recovering from multiple knee surgeries.
“Any time you miss a full year, you start to appreciate the job we have and what we get to do,” he said. “To not have that for a complete year, it will be a special day.”
Hart battled back and forearm injuries late in spring training, which caused him to miss a handful of games. He played in a handful of minor-league games last week in hopes of finding that rhythm.
“You get 30 at-bats in three or four days, it’s hard not figure something out,” he said. “I was just trying to see pitches and try to get the timing and adjustments down and get through with no setbacks.”
There’s a good chance that Hart and Romero will be in the lineup in the third game of the series with lefty Hector Santiago getting the start.
“We want better balance against left-handers. I think with Hart and Romero and sometimes Willie (Bloomquist), we have better balance,” McClendon said. “But I’m not ready to say we have a platoon-type line-up. It’s a combination of things. It gives us better balance and it gives me a chance to get these guys in early and keep them sharp.”
No green light for Almonte
Abraham Almonte’s failed stolen base in the first inning of Monday night’s win was called from the dugout. But Angels pitcher Jered Weaver used the slide step from the stretch effectively and had one of his fastest times to home on the pitch, which allowed catcher Chris Iannetta to throw Almonte out in a close play.
“Weaver picked a good time to be really quick to the plate,” McClendon said. “Looking at the play, I still thought he was safe. But it obviously wasn’t worth challenging at the time.”
McClendon has not given Almonte the green light to steal whenever he chooses. That trust has to be earned.
“I think he has the ability, but he doesn’t know the league yet,” McClendon said. “Until he learns the league, I will help him along.”
• McClendon went to the hospital to see Angels hitting coach Don Baylor, who was being prepped for surgery on his broken femur. Baylor broke the bone while catching Monday’s ceremonial first pitch.
“It seemed like he was in good spirits,” McClendon said. “He was an idol of mine.”
Former Mariners first baseman Paul Sorrento, who still lives in the Seattle area, will serve as interim hitting coach for the Angels as Baylor recovers from the surgery. Former Mariners hitting coach Dave Hansen is the team’s assistant hitting coach.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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