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For Angels, a strange and sad season

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim report to Yankee Stadium Thursday riding a three-game winning streak. Rehabilitating players Kelvim Escobar, Vladimir Guerrero and Dustin Moseley are with the club. There is at least a semblance of a return to normalcy.

But this will never be a fully normal season for the Angels, as they received a reminder just this past week. During the Angels' two-game sweep of the Orioles at Camden Yards, team officials met with the father and grandfather of Nick Adenhart, the Angels' 22-year-old pitcher (and Maryland native) who died April 9 when a drunken driver hit the car in which Adenhart was a passenger.

"Our focus is on the support of Nick's family and the families of the other kids in the accident," Tony Reagins, the Angels' general manager, said Wednesday in a telephone interview. "We choose not to focus on [the accident]. We want to remember the good times we had with him."

Nevertheless, Reagins said that he reached out to his Cardinals counterpart John Mozeliak for advice on how to cope with such a tragedy. The Cardinals lost Josh Hancock in 2007 when Hancock, described by medical examiners as legally drunk, hit the back of a tow truck while driving on a St. Louis highway.

The two-time defending American League West champions, the winner of four of the last five AL West titles and a playoff entry five of the last seven seasons, the Angels also have dealt with a slew of ordinary baseball injuries. Given the talent they've lost, it's not a shocker that they have a 9-11 record.

"Injuries are a part of the game," Reagins said. "We're not feeling sorry for ourselves."

Escobar (right shoulder inflammation) and his fellow starting pitchers John Lackey (right forearm tightness) and Ervin Santana (right elbow strain) have missed the entire season. Lackey and Santana have thrown in extended spring training games; Escobar is throwing off a mound.

Guerrero, the team's resident superstar, tore a pectoral muscle and probably will miss a couple of more weeks. Reliever/spot starter Darren Oliver is also deactivated because of left shoulder soreness.

Centerfielder Torii Hunter and newcomer Bobby Abreu, the former Yankee, have both played well; Reagins praised the duo's complementary leadership skills, as Hunter is far more talkative than the quiet Abreu.

And the reality is that the Angels have more room for error than the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. The AL West is so wide open that Reagins' group has time to regroup, rehabilitate and make another run at October.

"We just feel that, if we get back to full strength and play the way we're capable of, this will take care of itself," Reagins said. "We have to get healthy. If we do that and play the way we're capable of, we'll get in a good position to be in the position that we really want to be in."


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