07/07/08 8:20 PM ET
Saunders waiting for a pregnant pause
Lefty will be there for first child's birth; could miss next start
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
Monday afternoon, as he sat on the sofa watching TV in the visitor's clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark, his cell phone rang in his locker. It didn't ring long, though, before Saunders picked it up."Joe, you're having a baby!" one of Saunders' teammates shouted. False alarm. But Saunders knows he may have to board a plane back to Orange County at any moment. "The baby's due today," Saunders said Monday. "If I get a call saying the baby's on the way, I'll hop on the next plane out." If the baby doesn't come soon, Saunders said he and his wife may decide to induce labor, but they're hoping to avoid going that route. Further complicating the birth of Saunders' first child is the fact he's slated to start Tuesday night against the Rangers for the Angels. Saunders is 12-4 this season, tied for the Major League lead in victories, with a 3.04 ERA and 58 strikeouts. He will be making his first All-Star Game appearance this season. Tuesday would mark his first start against the Rangers this season and provide him the opportunity to take sole possession of the Major League wins lead. Nevertheless, Saunders said if the baby waits until Tuesday to come, he'll still get on a plane to be with his wife for the birth. "If it comes, I'm out of here," Saunders said. "If not, I'm going to pitch." Saunders has talked with manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher about the possibility of missing his start, and both have given him the go-ahead to be present for the birth. With an off-day last Thursday, the Angels may have the flexibility to make a rotation maneuver in the event Saunders misses his start. Although Saunders doesn't know when the call he's been waiting on will come, at least he knows what the baby's name will be and what color clothes to buy. Saunders and his wife picked the name Mattea for their baby girl. "It's a girl," Saunders said. "I kind of wanted to wait, but [my wife] wanted to know so she could decorate the baby's room."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.