TAMPA, Fla. -- What's more prestigious, a World Series ring or an Olympic gold medal?
It's more than just an idle question around the house of Angels pitcher Jon Garland, who will start tonight's series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. That's because Garland won a ring with the 2005 Chicago White Sox, a year after longtime girlfriend Lovieanne Jung won a gold medal in softball at the Athens Games.
"I personally feel winning the World Series is tougher," Garland said. "Only because there's more teams and the competition's better."
Jung, not surprisingly, disagrees.
"What's more important?" she asked. "My gold medal."
Garland and Jung, both 28, met during spring training seven years ago when Garland was a White Sox prospect and Jung was playing at the University of Arizona. It was nearly a week before either found out the other was an athlete -- and they still rarely talk about their games.
"As far as what we do on the field, we kind of leave that [alone]," said Garland, who has become a big softball fan over the years. "I really don't talk to her about it and she really doesn't talk to me about it."
During the next four months most of their conversations will be by phone because not only are the Angels traveling, but so is the USA Softball team, touring in preparation for the Beijing Olympics in August, where Jung is expecting to pick up another gold medal.
And when she returns home she may be getting a ring too.
"Those thoughts are always there," Garland said of marriage. "I definitely want to have a family someday. And she's definitely the person I can see that happening with."
Howie Kendrick did not play for the Angels' Class-A affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday, sitting out a second straight game after tweaking his already tender hamstring Tuesday. . . . John Lackey will make what he hopes will be his final rehabilitation start today in Tempe, Ariz. Lackey, a 19-game winner a year ago, started the season on the disabled list because of a strained triceps. If he reports no soreness, he could make his season debut early next week.