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Angels, Royals underway as Albert Pujols' era begins

April 06, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Angels fans along the third base wall try to get players to throw balls into the stands before the start of the Angels' season opener against the visiting Kansas City Royals on Friday.
Angels fans along the third base wall try to get players to throw balls into… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

The Angels' first game with new $240 million first baseman Albert Pujols is underway.

Starting pitcher Jered Weaver took the mound for his third consecutive opening-day start and threw ball one to Kansas City Royals leadoff man Alex Gordon. Gordon flew out to center field one pitch later.

Weaver then struck out Lorenzo Cain looking and Eric Hosmer flied out to left fielder Vernon Wells.

The pre-game ceremonies included a full introduction of players and clubhouse personnel, a large flag unveiling in the outfield, first pitches by 2002 World Series stars Troy Percival, Tim Salmon and David Eckstein, and a flyover by a massive U.S. Air Force plane.

The crowd unleashed an extended roar for Pujols, who was moved to doff his cap to the fans, who also cheered loudly for Kendrys Morales in his first game back since breaking his ankle celebrating a game-winning homer at home plate in May 2010.

Following a one-out double to center by Howie Kendrick, Pujols lined out on his first at-bat to Royals' shortstop Alcides Escobar, who turned a double play with Kendrick running on the contact.

The introductions included a handshake at home plate between Angels Manager Mike Scioscia and Royals Manager Ned Yost. Scioscia roared at Yost during spring training when Angels' center fielder Peter Bourjos was hit by a Royals' pitch following three consecutive Angels' home runs.

"I wouldn't call us friends, but I have a lot of respect for Mike," Yost said before the game. "It's overblown, a media thing. We weren't trying to hit Bourjos. I'd be mad, too, if we hit back-to-back-to-back homers and then our next guy got hit. I understand it completely."

Yost didn't return to exchange another handshake and lineup cards with Scioscia, sending bench coach Chinom Cadahia to perform the task.

Yost and many of his players sat mostly in solitude in the visiting dugout before the game, watching a mob of cameras and reporters focus their attention on Pujols and the Angels.

"It's opening day at home for them, you understand it," Yost said. "You want to get through it, get past it. This is a good chance to fly under the radar, you know, let's go play them."

The Times will have continued coverage from Angels' opening night here at Sports Now.


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