BOSTON — As all baseball-loving kids in New England did, Gary DiSarcina came to Fenway Park to root for the Boston Red Sox. As a little boy, he called the place "Friendly Park" because that's what he thought the announcers said.
He always dreamed of playing for the Red Sox. But the Angels drafted him, and he served with distinction, their starting shortstop from 1992-99. After two injury-riddled years, he was let go by the Angels. He signed a minor league contract with the Red Sox, hoping to play one game for his hometown team in friendly Fenway.
Some dreams do not come true. He suffered a broken finger in spring training, his shoulder still hurt, and he hit .243 as a part-time second baseman at triple-A Pawtucket. He retired last month, at 34, without regrets.
"The gas tank was empty," he said. "There are other things in life."
DiSarcina brought his two kids to Fenway on Saturday, visiting with his former Angel teammates and attending his first game here as a fan since he was a kid. He might get into coaching someday, but for now he is happy living on Cape Cod, hanging out with the family and checking the Angels' box score first thing each morning.
And how does he compare this year's Angels to his '97 and '98 teams that faltered in August and September?
"They have a little better pitching," he said, his eyes twinkling at the thought of Disney's old periwinkle-and-pinstripes costumes, "and better uniforms. They look like a big-league team now."
Infielder Chone Figgins, called up from triple-A Salt Lake to replace injured outfielder Tim Salmon, said he stayed up all night Thursday calling family and friends with news of his promotion, left his Oregon hotel at 3:45 a.m. to catch a 6 a.m. flight and arrived at Fenway at 5 p.m. Friday. On his first day in the major leagues, he didn't play and didn't stop smiling.
"To sit in the dugout, with Pedro Martinez on the mound and the crowd yelling, and in a pennant race, it doesn't get any better than that," he said.
With Salmon not expected to return by the time rosters expand next Sunday, Figgins figures to remain with the Angels for the rest of the season. The Angels plan to add another relief pitcher next Sunday, and another outfielder if Salmon is not ready. After the Salt Lake season ends--or sooner in case of injury--they will consider adding another catcher, infielder and one or two pitchers.
(0-0, 0.00 ERA)
(17-5, 2.19 ERA)
Fenway Park, 10 a.m. PDT
Radio--KLAC (570), XPRS (1090).
Update--The Angels returned reliever Mark Lukasiewicz to Salt Lake to clear a roster space for Callaway, working on seven days' rest after the Angels decided to promote him from Salt Lake to replace the injured Aaron Sele in the starting rotation. Callaway won his first major league start, for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999, did not win any of his other three that year and has not started a major league game since. He has not given up more than two earned runs in any start this season; in his last four, he has pitched 26 innings, striking out 26 and walking four. Lowe, the American League's starting pitcher in the All-Star game, is 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA in his last seven starts.