Angels catcher Hank Conger watches his game-winning home run leave Angel… (Christine Cotter / Associated…)
The longest spring in history for both the Dodgers and Angels finally came to a end Saturday at Angel Stadium, and Hank Conger made sure it was an end worth remembering, hitting a two-out, pinch-hit home run off Yimi Garcia to give the Angels a 2-1 victory.
But even before Conger's team-leading fourth home run of the year began soaring toward the right-field wall, both managers were looking forward to the regular season, when the games begin to count.
"We're ready to go," said Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, whose team played a franchise-high 35 spring-training games ahead of Monday afternoon's regular-season opener against the Reds in chilly Cincinnati. "We're looking forward to it. You want to just get that ship off the dock and get moving into the season."
The Dodgers, who played a team-record 38 exhibitions, also begin their regular season Monday afternoon, playing host to the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
"We just need guys to do their thing. We don't need guys to have career years," said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly, who is managing the team with the highest payroll in baseball history. "Stars don't have to be aligned for this club to perform."
A half-dozen players performed well in their last outings of the spring Saturday with Angels starter Tommy Hanson giving up just a run and three hits in 61/3 innings, striking out six. He was nearly matched by Dodgers starter Zack Greinke, who gave up a run and three hits in five innings.
Four relievers — Josh Wall, Chris Capuano, Peter Moylan and Garcia — followed Greinke to the mound and allowed just one Angel to reach base until Conger, who just hours earlier had learned he had made the opening-day roster, delivered the game-winning hit.
But the batting averages and earned-run averages — as well as the win-loss records — all go back to zero Monday. And for Scioscia at least, the assessments will start over then as well.
"It's one thing evaluating guys in spring training. And then as you evaluate them in the season, how the pieces fit, it becomes a whole other equation," he said. "So I'm looking forward to getting that started.
"Hopefully we're going to get our guys performing to the way they can because we've got a team that has a lot of potential."