Devon White toweled off in the visitors' clubhouse at the Milwaukee Brewers' training facility in Chandler, Ariz., after another four-hit performance had raised his spring batting average above the .400 mark.
"I'm really relaxed," he said, smiling. "I wish you could feel this relaxed during the season. I'd love to get off to a hot start, but I just want to have a solid season."
Three little wishes.
The season is just eight games old, but the Angels' genie in center field is doing his best to make the desires of spring become reality.
"I'm feeling real comfortable from the right side," said White, a switch-hitter. "The left side is still a little shaky, though."
\o7 A hot start?\f7
White, who has at least one hit in six of the seven games in which he has played, had three more hits Tuesday night as the Angels beat Oakland, 7-1, at Anaheim Stadium. White is hitting .370 with five runs scored and three RBIs.
\o7 A solid season?\f7
Time will tell, but if Manager Doug Rader were Pete Rose, he'd bet his house that White will realize Wish No. 3.
"When all is said and done and the year is over, the numbers will be there," Rader said, "and he will have had a terrific year. He knows how to make adjustments. He's mentally strong. I don't have any worries about Devo."
White, however, is not too happy with his swing when he's hitting left-handed. Tuesday, however, he had a triple in the first inning and a run-scoring single in the fifth hitting left-handed.
"I've been roaring out too much from the left side," White explained. "I need to stay back. Now, I'm just trying to put the ball in play from the left side until I get my stroke back."
White's little put-it-in-play swing has been good enough for a most-respectable .294 left-handed average. Of course, that's pretty paltry when compared to the .555 he has fashioned with that free-and-easy right-handed cut.
Both of his left-handed hits Tuesday were bloopers. He dropped a flare near the left-field line in the first and when Luis Polonia let the ball squirt away for a moment, White and his yard-and-half stride turned it into a triple.
"They've been playing me deep in the alleys, so every once in a while you're gonna chunk one in that keeps 'em honest," he said.
He also sliced a two-out looper into left to score Glenn Hoffman and keep the Angels' six-run fifth alive and then lined a single to left in the seventh while hitting right-handed against A's reliever Greg Cadaret.
White, who won a Gold Glove last year, also made his presence felt afield with a pair of nice running catches of drives off the bats of Carney Lansford and Tony Phillips.
And he almost made a spectacular catch of a shot hit by Dave Parker in the ninth, retreating to the wall and leaping as the ball glanced off his glove. He momentarily pinned the ball to the fence with his body before it dropped down at his feet.
"It hit my glove, but it was never in my glove," White said. "After that, I didn't know where it was, except that it was in the park somewhere."
The crowd breathed a collective "ooohh" of disappointment when the ball trickled down onto the warning track and they realized White had not made yet another highlight-film catch, but then Anaheim Stadium fans have come to expect the incredible from White.
"He's such an outstanding athlete that you tend to take him for granted," Rader said. "You think he's going to catch every ball."
White, the triple threat, didn't get a chance to steal any bases Tuesday night, but that's because he was either on third or had a runner ahead of him all three times he was on base. White already has four steals--in five attempts--this season.
In the spring, White said he thought he could steal "50 or 60" bases if he hit .270 or better and Rader continued to let him run at will. So far, things have gone according to that plan and don't look for Rader to pull in the reins.
"With a player like Devo, you want to give him as long a leash as you can," Rader said. "I believe very much in the man's ability to know when to run and when not to.
"This is a very creative athlete we're talking about and I want him to improvise."
White smiles and nods.
"I'm gonna be runnin' until somebody tells me stop."
And just that easy, another wish is granted.