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New helmets are outside Angels' comfort zone

Rawlings' S100 batting helmets are said to be able to withstand a 100-mph fastball, but players don't seem to like the oversized headgear, which will be mandatory in minor leagues next year.

September 09, 2009|Kevin Baxter

While the Angels were on the road, clubhouse manager Ken Higdon received a trial shipment of Rawlings' new S100 batting helmets. And though the manufacturer says the new headgear is capable of withstanding a 100-mph pitch, Higdon said Tuesday no one has approached him to try one on.

"It was just too bulky. It reminded me more of a football helmet," said catcher Jeff Mathis, who claims he "broke his face" when he was hit in the cheek by a pitch in his first full professional season in 2002.

But even for him the extra protection doesn't make up for the extra weight and size of the new helmets.

In fact, Angels outfielder Torii Hunter has taken to calling them "the Gazoo helmets" because they resemble the oversized helmet worn by the Great Gazoo, a character from the "Flintstones" cartoons. Appearances aside, however, the helmets will be required in the minor leagues beginning next season.

"If it was mandatory to wear it, I would wear it," Hunter said. "But if it was up to us to wear it, no, I'm not. It's a feeling I've had on my head and I've had it my whole career. So I'm used to that feeling.

"I've been facing guys that throw 100 mph for 17 years. I've been hit in the head, hit in the face. I've got to tell you, I don't think I like that helmet."

Career advice

If Joe Paterno had been a little more forgiving, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia might never have played professional baseball.

A three-sport standout in high school in suburban Philadelphia, Scioscia was a 195-pound linebacker and defensive end whose dream was to play at Penn State.

Then Paterno, the legendary Nittany Lions coach, crushed that dream.

"They told me I stunk," Scioscia said.

So when the Dodgers took Scioscia in the first round of the 1976 baseball draft, he passed up college, going on to become a two-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion as a Dodgers catcher, and the winningest manager in Angels history.

Make room for reinforcements

Outfielder Chris Pettit joined four teammates from triple-A Salt Lake in the Angels' clubhouse Tuesday, swelling the expanded roster to 35 players.

Pettit, 25, hit a team-high .321 for the Angels' top minor league affiliate, which finished its season Monday.

On Monday night the Angels called up infielder Freddy Sandoval, catcher Ryan Budde, pitcher Rafael Rodriguez and outfielder Terry Evans from Salt Lake.

Ichiro influence

The Angels celebrated Japan Day on Tuesday with a pregame ceremony featuring martial artists and taiko drummers.

But the five dozen Japanese media members on hand were there to see Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who entered the series needing five hits to reach 200 for the ninth consecutive season.

Starting the night, Suzuki, who had 2,000 hits and a .333 career average, could have gone hitless in his next 667 at-bats and still had a lifetime average of .300.


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