09/12/12 2:45 AM ET
Angels, A's join all of baseball in remembering 9/11
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
The Angels' 39-year-old reliever was in Dearborn, Mich., staying at a hotel while his Twins played a series against the nearby Tigers, when his wife woke him up with an early morning phone call to tell him the country was being attacked. Hawkins turned on the TV just as the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center.
"I told her, 'That's fake, that's not real,' " Hawkins said. "But it was real."
During the seventh-inning stretch, the Twins used to play Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." And ever since witnessing what took place on Sept. 11, 2001, Hawkins has had a different perspective about that song.
"I never paid too much attention to it," Hawkins said, "but that song, to this day, still gives me goose bumps talking about it, because that's when I started liking that song."
On Tuesday night, the Angels joined the rest of Major League Baseball by commemorating the 11th anniversary of those horrifying terrorist attacks. The Orange County Fire Color Guard marched onto the field, and after a moment of silence, a giant American flag was unveiled during the singing of the national anthem.
Brennan Leninger, a 10-year veteran of the United States Air Force who was assigned to the Pentagon following the attacks, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. And the Angels and A's both sported an American flag on the side of their caps.
"It's one of those moments in your life you always know where you were and what you were doing when it happened," Hawkins said. "There's not too many occurrences in your life where you would remember that. It changed everything."
Wells playing in place of, and rooting for, Trumbo
ANAHEIM -- At the main entrance to Angel Stadium, the Angels have six giant banners, each representing one of their key players. At the start of the year, one of those six banners was of Vernon Wells. But as the season progressed, with Wells struggling at the plate before thumb surgery put him on the shelf long-term, his poster was taken down, replaced by one of local boy Mark Trumbo.
Now, as the season is in its most critical juncture, it's Wells replacing Trumbo in the lineup.
Wells started in left field on Tuesday, marking his fourth start there this month and, more appropriately, the third time in the last seven games that the slumping Trumbo was on the bench. Wells has seemingly adjusted quite well to his new part-time role, but his ascension to the lineup has more to do with the struggles of Trumbo, who's 2-for-24 with 12 strikeouts this month and is slugging just .289 in his last 47 games.
Wells knows what it's like to be a slumping left fielder in an Angels uniform.
"I think it's just an evolution of a young player -- of a player, period," Wells said. "We all go through struggles, no matter if you're Albert Pujols struggling early in the year or if you're Mark Trumbo struggling later in the year. This is baseball. You'll see some stuff happen in this game that'll make you just shake your head, and it's a matter of how you respond to them. That's what's going to define you as the player or the person you're going to be. I think Trumbo's going to learn a lot from this experience, and it's going to make him better down the road."
Who starts in left field for Angels manager Mike Scioscia may be a day-to-day mystery for the next 20 games. It may simply come down to who gets hot.
On one side there's Wells, who had compiled three hits, two walks, a homer and three RBIs during his last three starts, and offers better defense, but has been arguably the Angels' least productive hitter since coming over in 2011. On the other side there's Trumbo, still the team leader in home runs and an All-Star just two months ago, but clearly not himself since mid-July.
Wells is happy to get his playing time, but he believes his acceptance of this part-time role stems from putting himself "in a place where the team comes first and you truly want everyone to succeed." And Wells wants very badly for Trumbo to succeed again.
His best advice: Pretend the slump doesn't even exist.
"But that's not easy," Wells said. "This game mainly takes place in your head, so it's a matter of how you deal with those struggles. And I think it's a matter of trying to stay as even keel as possible, through the good and the bad. You know it's a matter of time before things turn around when you're struggling, you know it's a matter of time before things start going south when they're going well."
Jered Weaver (biceps tendinitis) threw what manager Mike Scioscia called a "touch-and-feel" bullpen session prior to Tuesday's game and is ready to go for Thursday.
Maicer Izturis, who exited Saturday's game with a rib-cage injury, still isn't taking part in baseball activities, but X-rays came back negative and he believes he should start taking grounders within the next couple of days.
In the ninth inning of Monday's 3-1 loss to the Athletics, former closer Jordan Walden made only his second appearance of September, striking out two batters and giving up one hit.
Asked pregame about Walden's role in the bullpen, Scioscia said: "There's no doubt Jordan has a role. I think we've been on such a streak that you're seeing some guys that have been used ahead of him -- guys like [Kevin Jepsen] and [Ernesto] Frieri and [Scott] Downs -- and as our starters have gone longer, they've absorbed some of the innings that Jordan might have had. We still like where he is and what he can do."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.