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Chone Figgins hustles to St. Louis as last-minute All-Star

The Angels third baseman joins the AL squad after an infected finger sidelines Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria.

July 15, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

Having spent much of his big league career as a super utility player, starting at six positions and sometimes jumping from the infield to the outfield and back in the same game, Chone Figgins is used to adjusting on the fly.

But nothing could have prepared the Angels third baseman for Tuesday morning's mad scramble when, because of an injury to Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria, Figgins was added to the American League All-Star team about 10 hours before Tuesday's game in St. Louis.

Longoria pulled out of the game because of an infected ring finger on his right hand; he was replaced in the starting lineup by Texas third baseman Michael Young.

Tim Mead, the Angels vice president of communications who was in St. Louis, was at a breakfast function Tuesday morning when he received a call from Major League Baseball officials at about 9 a.m. CDT, informing him that Figgins had been added to the team.

Because he is a sound sleeper, Figgins did not initially get the telephone call from Mead telling him to get to St. Louis, pronto. But the resourceful Mead tracked him down.

"He got hold of [former Angel] Garret Anderson, and Garret Anderson called my uncle, who called my mom," Figgins said. "She told them that my uncle, who is a Class-A coach for the Angels, was staying with me because their team had an off day. So they called my uncle, and he ran in banging on my door."

Once the initial euphoria wore off for Figgins, who had not hidden his disappointment at finishing third in last week's fan vote for the final AL roster spot, his next thought was: Can I get to St. Louis in time for the game?

The Angels looked into securing a private jet for Figgins, who remained in Orange County over the All-Star break, but had no luck.

They then booked Figgins on a nonstop flight from Los Angeles to St. Louis that was scheduled to leave LAX at about noon and arrive in St. Louis at about 5:20 p.m. CDT, less than two hours before the scheduled first pitch.

Angels equipment manager Kenny Higdon rushed to the park to pack Figgins' uniform, gloves and spikes, and a team employee drove the equipment bag to LAX to deliver to Figgins.

Figgins made it in time.

"About 5:20 on the ground, and special escort over here to Busch Stadium," AL Manager Joe Maddon said.

Maddon, the long-time Angels player and coach, was thrilled to be able to add Figgins and regretted not being able to call Figgins personally with the news.

"The wheels had to be set in motion to get him here, and I did not have a chance to tell him that personally," the AL manager said.

And after all of that, how did Figgins do in the game? He didn't play.

"It would have been nice to have played," Figgins said after the AL's 4-3 victory. "But it's not disappointing. It's a thrill that I was here. It was a special day. I can say I'm an All-Star."

--

Phil Rogers in St. Louis contributed to this report.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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