KANSAS CITY, MO. — The Angels' four-game series here was an eventful one for outfielder Reggie Willits, who came to Kansas City a No. 9 hitter with only nine singles but left town riding a 10-game hitting streak and batting in front of Vladimir Guerrero.
He also short-circuited a potential tying rally with a baserunning mistake Wednesday, misplayed a fly ball into a double that helped the Royals tie the score Thursday and had a rare daylong visit with his wife and son shortened to only a few hours when their flight was delayed.
"It was a pretty different series," said Willits, who had eight hits and two walks in the four games, raising his batting average to .415 and his on-base percentage to .478.
"He's doing a terrific job," said Manager Mike Scioscia, who has seen Willits mature from a hitter who struck out 112 times in one minor league season to one who walked nearly that many times last summer.
Willits already had good memories of Kansas City because he made his first big league start here last year, collecting two hits and a game-winning RBI. He had trouble in the wet outfield Thursday, though, breaking in on a third-inning line drive by Mike Sweeney that carried over his head for a double. A pitch later Sweeney scored the tying run.
Brandon Wood got to the Angels clubhouse early Thursday morning -- but his glove and bats didn't arrive until just before noon because of a luggage mix-up on his connecting flight from Atlanta.
"I just told [the airline] we have a game at 1. And I'm not sure if I'm in the starting lineup," said Wood, who did indeed start at third, batting ninth. "[They] did a good job, obviously, because I got my stuff. What I should do is keep my baseball stuff in my carry-on."
Wood, who was optioned to triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday, was with the Bees in Portland when he got the news he was being called up. The only flight available Wednesday night took him to Atlanta, where he caught a 7:15 a.m. connection back to Missouri. "I had a little bit of coffee," said a tired Wood, who went hitless in three at-bats. "But I know that the adrenaline will pump in."
Unconfirmed reports that Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock had been drinking at a St. Louis restaurant before the fatal car crash that took his life last weekend may lead some teams to revisit team policies regarding beer in the clubhouse. But while Angels General Manager Bill Stoneman said the topic comes up "from time to time" in conversation, he doesn't expect his club to make any changes.
"The reality is that the players really don't hang around the clubhouse like they used to," he said. "I'm in my eighth year here and I don't recall having an issue with beer in the clubhouse."
Most every big league club makes beer available in the clubhouse and many, like the Angels, also serve hard liquor on team charter flights. However, the Angels did ban both for a time in 1987 after pitcher John Candelaria had two DUI incidents and wound up in rehab. The Athletics also stopped providing beer in the home and visiting clubhouses in Oakland last season after pitcher Esteban Loaiza was arrested for drunk driving.
Toxicology and autopsy results on Hancock could be available as early as today.