By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
JUNE 18, 2002
GAME 67 - ANGELS AT CARDINALS
ST. LOUIS -- The Angels got a glimpse Tuesday night of what once was their's, of what amazed them with his talents and baffled them with his laid-back demeanor at the same time.
Now in his third season with the St. Louis Cardinals, Jim Edmonds looked a lot like the version that played seven seasons with the Angels, hitting a home run and patrolling center field like few can in the Cardinals' 7-2 win over the Angels before 39,386 at Busch Stadium.
``It felt like it was an intra-squad game,'' Edmonds said. ``They were all on the other side and I was by myself.''
Edmonds, though, certainly didn't beat the Angels by himself. He had help, particularly from Cardinals starter Darryl Kile, who gave up one run and six hits in 7 2/3 innings as the Cardinals took sole possession of first place in the National League Central.
Meanwhile, the Angels have lost three in a row for the first time since a four-game losing streak April 20-23. They fell two games behind first-place Seattle in the American League West, and are now just two games ahead of surging Oakland.
While the spring, 2000 trade of Edmonds to the Cardinals for second baseman Adam Kennedy and pitcher Kent Bottenfield might not have been the club's best deal ever, the Angels have other concerns at the moment.
Specifically, what's wrong with starter Kevin Appier. Appier complained of tightness in his right (pitching) forearm two starts ago, but says it's fine now. But if Appier is not hurt, then how else to explain his sudden change of fortune?
Appier began the season 5-1 with a 2.96 ERA in his first nine starts, but in his five starts since, he is 0-5 with a 8.31 ERA. That includes Tuesday's start, which lasted only two-plus innings, his shortest of the season.
He gave up six runs and nine hits, including the home run to Edmonds (``actually a pretty good pitch,'' Appier said) and a two-run homer to Edgar Renteria (``a terrible pitch''). Angels pitching coach Bud Black said Appier only needs to make minor mechanical adjustments, and Appier agreed.
``I've had a number of bad stretches,'' Appier (5-6) said. ``This is a lengthy one, but I've pulled out of them before. After a game like this, thinking about throwing eight shutout innings seems so far off. But I still think I can get back to that.''
Edmonds, meanwhile, enjoyed visiting with old friends before beating them. He had a few former Angels teammates over at his house Monday night, including third baseman Troy Glaus, who is staying there instead of the team hotel for the three nights the team is in town.
Edmonds went 1 for 5, striking out twice, and robbed Brad Fullmer of extra bases with a running catch and a slide on his belly on the warning track in left-center field in the seventh inning. Unlike his stay with the Angels, Edmonds said it's OK to have a good time while playing baseball, and it shows.
``We had some good teams, but we never got the chance (to play in the playoffs),'' Edmonds said. ``Everyone was the same age. Nobody took charge. Nobody was funny. It was always quiet. There was nobody to keep the team loose. When I came here, everything was different.
``My first day here, Shawon Dunston is lying on the floor laughing his guts out. It's little things like that that keep a team going.''
The Angels, it seems, could use a good chuckle. Between their four-game losing streak in April and the current slide, the Angels went 33-11. But the starting pitchers have struggled lately, particularly Appier.
``There is not a magical solution,'' Black said. ``Just go out and trust your ability and trust what made you a winning pitcher in the big leagues.''
ST. LOUIS -- Jim Edmonds, still dripping with sweat from batting practice, peeled off his Cardinals practice jersey late Tuesday afternoon to reveal a t-shirt that read ``California Soul.''
But Edmonds, the 1988 graduate of Diamond Bar High who spent 12 years in the Angels organization, has made a home in St. Louis. He still has close friends on the Angels, particularly Troy Glaus and Garret Anderson, but has otherwise tried forget about his time in Anaheim.
Edmonds was criticized by teammates, often times behind his back, for showboating and lacking a good work ethic. When he was traded to the Cardinals during spring training in 2000 for second baseman Adam Kennedy and pitcher Kent Bottenfield, Edmonds got the chance to start fresh.
``I had been with those people when I was 17 years old,'' Edmonds said of his time with the Angels. ``Old thoughts were lingering in their heads and it was hard for them to get past that. These people don't have that. Being so young (with the Angels), they had tainted views.''
Now Edmonds, who turns 32 next week, admits he has grown up.
``I'm three years older, I'm a little more mature,'' Edmonds said. ``I've been to the postseason, I know what every game means now. I know what it's like to be in a winning situation. It makes you grow up and be a better play under pressure.''
Edmonds hit .295 with 42 homers and 108 RBIs in 2000 and .304 with 30 homers and 110 RBIs last season. He's also been to the playoffs in both seasons with St. Louis, hitting .321 (17 for 53) with five homers and 15 RBIs in 13 postseason games.
He signed a six-year, $57 million contract soon after joining the Cardinals and says he'll retire when the contract is up after 2006 at age 36. He said there is nowhere else he'd rather play.
``I got an opportunity here and I'm glad I did,'' said Edmonds, who entertained former teammates Glaus, Anderson, Troy Percival and Scott Schoeneweis at his house Monday night. ``People say the mind's a powerful thing. I come to the stadium every day and being on a good club and having people in your corner makes all the difference in the world. You just have an upbeat personality the whole day.''
The return to Busch Stadium was ``exciting'' for Kennedy, even though he played in only 33 games for the Cardinals in 1999 before the trade.
``Not only on the field but because of a lot of people here,'' Kennedy said. ``There are three coaches here now (hitting coach Mitchell Page, third base coach Jose Oquendo and bench coach Joe Pettini) who helped me up through the minor leagues. And (general manager) Walt Jocketty is a pretty special guy.''
Outfielder Julio Ramirez had to be carted off the field during batting practice Tuesday after his left leg gave out while trying to catch a fly ball. Ramirez was examined by Cardinals team doctor Stan London, who diagnosed Ramirez with a strained left calf. Ramirez, though, said he heard a pop behind his knee.
Ramirez was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The club will call up reliever Brendan Donnelly to replace Ramirez on the roster.
First baseman/DH Shawn Wooten took live batting practice Tuesday for the first time since straining a muscle in his right side on May 31. Wooten isn't expected to begin a rehab assignment for at least another week. ... The Angels will call up a starting pitcher from Triple-A Salt Lake for Monday's doubleheader in Texas. It'll be either John Lackey or Matt Wise. Lackey is pitching for the Stingers tonight, meaning he'd be starting on his normal four-days rest on Monday. ... The Angels renewed their agreement with Triple-A Salt Lake through the 2004 season.