Anderson would be Halos' two-guard
Angels athletes feel they could hold their own on hardwood
ANAHEIM -- As the Angels were taking batting practice late Saturday afternoon, they were checking the big screens atop both grandstands, in left and right fields, where UCLA was struggling to keep up with Memphis in the NCAA championship semifinals in San Antonio.
Caught up in Final Four fever, Garret Anderson, an all-city performer and Division I recruit for John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills, Calif., in 1990, obliged to assemble a fantasy basketball team comprised of Angels teammates.
Anderson -- who averaged 23 points for the Kennedy Cougars as a senior and was believed to be headed for Fresno State before signing with the Angels that summer -- was swiftly designated as coach and captain by teammates.
"We'd have a pretty decent front line with John [Lackey], [Chris] Bootcheck and [Jered] Weaver," Anderson said of the three tall, athletic pitchers. "All those guys played basketball in high school. I've seen John, and he can play.
"I'd be the two-guard, coming off screens and getting my shot, like I did in high school. I played like Reggie Miller, the offense running through me. Chone [Figgins] played basketball in high school [Brandon, Fla.]. He'd be the point guard."
Figgins brightened when told he'd share the backcourt with his buddy, Garret.
"I'd be getting the ball to him where he wanted it, you know that," Figgins said, beaming.
Ervin Santana has talked enthusiastically about his high school basketball exploits in the Dominican Republic. Teammate and countryman Erick Aybar confirmed that Santana was known as "Magic" on the hardwood in San Cristobal, D.R.
Santana was given a role coming off the bench in Capt. Anderson's lineup, along with Jeff Mathis. A former point guard, the Angels' catcher had to give up basketball for football as he became a prime-time quarterback prospect at Marianna (Fla.) High School. Mathis was recruited to play quarterback by Florida State University before signing with the Angels in 2001.
"I'd back up Chone at the point," Mathis said, "and come in and foul some people."
Torii Hunter? "I was a football player" at Pine Bluff High School in Arkansas, the new center fielder said. "I was a quarterback and DB. I could throw and run the option, and I'd have been recruited, but I got hurt my junior year - hit from behind by a big dude -- and had to have knee surgery. That was it for football. I'm real happy it turned out the way it did. Baseball's it for me. You can play this game a long, long time and not tear up your body."
Weaver, Saturday night's starter, lettered in basketball for two years at Simi Valley High School, where, according to teammates, he played against Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas.
"I heard he had some game," Mathis said. Weaver, a slender 6-foot-7, would be the small forward, with Bootcheck (6-foot-5, and a star at La Porte High School in basketball-mad Indiana) at power forward.
Lackey, a multi-sport star at Abilene (Texas) High School, would take his 6-6, 245-pound frame into the pivot, setting some serious screens for Anderson.
"I think we could hold our own," Anderson said, grinning.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.