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T.J. SIMERS

Looks like fat chance of getting through to them

May 18, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

If only Andruw Jones has what it takes to get to second base on this hot afternoon, then taking a lead, turning full body toward home plate and blocking out the sun.

The Tubbo is the only guy in uniform right now who could provide shade for a whole ballpark -- at least making himself useful.

He just struck out with runners on first and second, 0 for 29 now with men in scoring position, and the Dodgers are paying Jones $18.1 million.

I stopped by the Dodgers clubhouse after their win over the Angels to see if Jones cared, but he was already in the lunch room eating. No telling how long he could be in there.

Not far from Jones, who had his mouth stuffed, Juan Pierre was working up a sweat in the weight room, and what's wrong with this picture?

Maybe it's Jones' intent to get so heavy that pitchers can no longer pitch around him, forcing them to deliver a fat pitch.

Well, anyway, I had to get to the Angels clubhouse to chat with Gary Matthews, knowing he had ordered HGH a while back and now that he's hitting .217 ask the obvious question, "Have you run out?"

He was relaxing on the couch after a hard day of going 0 for 5, the channel turner in his hand, flipping from channel to channel obviously hoping to catch Tom Emanski's instructional video on hitting.

"So what's wrong with you these days?" I asked, figuring if he was running short on HGH, I'd let him bring it up.

Mr. HGH, the human out, shook his head from side to side, a twitch for all I know and maybe one of those HGH side effects they are always talking about.

I don't know, because he wasn't talking. He tossed the channel turner aside, picked up his LG Voyager and began texting someone. Wouldn't it be funny if he was texting Jones?

They tell me that Mr. HGH has been unusually grumpy this season, brooding over the Angels' decision to bring in Torii Hunter and give him center field.

One writer, noting James Loney's face on the scoreboard and how it appeared as if they had superimposed someone else's mouth over Loney's, said, "It couldn't be Matthews'; that mouth is smiling."

The Angels are paying the brooder $9 million, and they have to pay him millions more over the next three years, and he's in a bad mood?

What's going on with our local baseball teams? One guy makes $18.1 million a season and he doesn't care about the fans or anything else, and another guy pulls down $9 million and walks around as if his name was linked to human growth hormone.

Oh, that's right.

By now, I hoped, Jones had finished eating, so I went to the Dodgers clubhouse. First thing I noticed, the Dodgers had a box of doughnuts, now half gone, just around the wall from Jones' locker.

I would think doughnuts would never be allowed in the Dodgers clubhouse, GM Ned Colletti standing at the door and making sure.

Jones, meanwhile, was sitting in front of his locker -- obviously taking a load off his feet. I asked him if he had changed his mind from our last chat, and now cared about something.

"Let me think about that for a day," he said, "and I'll get back to you."

So now we're talking take-home interviews?

I told him we would talk Monday, and suggested it would be "a piece of cake," noticing right away how he liked the sound of that.

A FEW years back, no question it was tough to corner Garret Anderson, and although he has never been miserable like Matthews or as clueless as Jones in knowing what should be said, Anderson made it difficult to get to know him.

Once accomplished, though, a trip to Anaheim just wouldn't be the same without the chance to swap stories or share a few yuks at his locker.

A couple of weeks back I kidded him that he was hitting like Jones and I would be coming after him in the newspaper, giving him two weeks to produce while I worked with the Lakers.

You can look it up: I'm 8-0 in the playoffs with the Lakers, the Lakers 0-2 in the playoffs when I don't go to their games.

Anyway Anderson went to work, and in the last two weeks he's hitting .454 -- taking his batting average from .218 to .289, including five for eight in two games against the Dodgers.

"My wife thought it was my swing when I was struggling," Anderson said, while obviously ignoring Page 2's impact on his rejuvenation. "But I knew it was between my ears. I just needed to get my mind right."

When he was struggling, we laughed, Anderson admitting he was just terrible. He didn't fire back when challenged by the media, but instead embraced the doubts.

"I feed off them, the things that people think I supposedly can't do," he said. "I know I'm getting older, but I look forward to the challenge of getting older. If there's going to be a decline, I want it to be slowly rather than sharply and people saying, 'What happened to him?' "

Anderson, admittedly more open now to sharing his depth on and off the field, has worn the Angels uniform with class since arriving here, and fans here have begun to take more notice.

The pro's pro, sometimes, is overlooked, the headlines going to those with problems.

I know this, the same uniform so far doesn't quite fit Matthews, and I know for sure, it doesn't fit Jones.

THEY SHOWED Carole and Arte Moreno on the scoreboard -- celebrating wedding anniversary No. 22, Carole planting a kiss on the Angels owner, and then the team rallying for two runs. Very inspiring. The way the Angels are going these days, the team might want to make Carole kissing Arte a regular scoreboard feature. Don't think Arte would mind.

TODAY'S LAST word comes in e-mail from Tyler Maughan:

"I am a huge Jazz fan. Why do you have to rip Utah -- except for the anti-depressants remark that I find rather humorous and sad at the same time considering most of my family can't seem to function without them. So what if we aren't a bunch of drunks -- isn't that somewhat of a good thing?"

Come on, your star player is a well-known Boozer.

--

T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.

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