4/1/2014 2:37 A.M. ET
Stewart takes pride in roster spot
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Ian Stewart didn't grow up very far from here. He was born in Long Beach and attended La Quinta High School in Westminster, Calif. During Little League, he'd march around this very outfield with hundreds of other kids before Sunday home games. In his junior and senior years of high school, he stood in the box at Angel Stadium for state championship games. And though he resides in North Carolina with his wife, Stewart's parents and sister still make Southern California their home.
But that's not why the left-handed-hitting infielder called cracking the Angels' Opening Day roster "very, very satisfying."
"This is really the first time I've had to fight for my spot on the team," Stewart said prior to Monday's first pitch. "From Little League up until the time I was in Colorado and Chicago, I was the third baseman for both of those organizations. I knew it was going to be tough, I knew I was going to have to play my way onto the team, so I was prepared for that. And I think that's why it was so gratifying, because I know that the work I put in during the winter really paid off."
Stewart worked with Hall of Famer and former Angels great Rod Carew, trying to repair a swing that produced only a .171/.303/.347 slash line while battling a left wrist injury and spending the entire 2013 season in the Minor Leagues.
He also had an image to repair.
Stewart -- selected 10th overall out of high school by the Rockies in 2003 -- spent all of 2012 and the first half of '13 in the Cubs organization and ended his tenure in Chicago with an ugly fallout, tweeting his frustrations over not being promoted from the Minor Leagues, serving a 10-game suspension in mid-June for violating the loyalty clause in his contract and getting released shortly thereafter.
But Carew recommended him to the organization, Don Baylor -- Stewart's hitting coach in Colorado -- was comfortable with his background and the Angels never even brought up the Twitter situation.
"I thought maybe there would be a lot of backlash from that with other organizations, with it being hard to get onto a team because of the situation, but I got a lot of support from people," Stewart said. "We weren't very far into the offseason before I started hearing from some organizations. That was good to see.
"I think I do have a good reputation in baseball. I know that that situation was just an isolated incident. It's just something that happened and I dealt with, and I'm just fortunate the Angels gave me an opportunity."
Baylor breaks leg catching Vlad's first pitch
ANAHEIM -- Angels hitting coach Don Baylor fractured his right femur while catching the ceremonial first pitch from Vladimir Guerrero prior to Opening Day on Monday and is set to undergo surgery on Tuesday.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Don right now," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Obviously it's [a freak accident], and we'll just see how it turns out. He's obviously in a lot of pain."
Baylor is a survivor of multiple myeloma, a cancer he acquired in 2003 that attacks plasma cells in the bone marrow. A fractured femur can take up to six months to heal.
Baylor, in his first season on Scioscia's coaching staff, was in a catcher's crouched position when Guerrero's slightly low-and-wide throw forced him to transfer most of his weight to the right side of his body. The 64-year-old tried to get up but couldn't walk off the field without the assistance of the Angels' training staff and was promptly taken to UCI Medical Center.
"Groove's a really tough guy," second baseman Howie Kendrick said of the former Angels MVP. "Any time you see him struggle like that, you know it's got to be pretty bad."
The Angels didn't didn't have a timeline for Baylor's recovery as of Monday night. Assistant hitting coach Dave Hansen is expected to take over his duties in the interim.
Vlad officially retires with the Angels
ANAHEIM -- Can Vladimir Guerrero be the first player to enter the Hall of Fame with an Angels hat?
It's very possible.
The Angels signed Guerrero to a one-day contract on the field Monday, seconds before he would throw out the ceremonial first pitch to kick off Opening Day, so that he could officially retire with the organization. Guerrero, 39, spent six of his 16 years with the Angels, joining Don Baylor, who suffered a fractured right femur while catching the first pitch, as the only MVPs in team history.
But he spent his first eight with the Montreal Expos.
"I feel like this is the team I can go in with, since I played six years here," Guerrero, speaking in Spanish, said of the Angels. "The Montreal Expos signed me, but they aren't in the big leagues anymore."
That doesn't necessarily mean he can't go into Cooperstown with the Expos, though.
Montreal hasn't had its Major League franchise since the end of the 2004 season, but outfielder Andre Dawson (2010) and manager Dick Williams (2008) have since entered with the organization. Both, however, has an extensive tenure with the Expos. And for Guerrero, it may be close enough that the Baseball Hall of Fame sides with the organization that's still around.
Guerrero signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Angels in January 2004, won the American League MVP in his first year and finished his tenure in Anaheim batting .319/.381/.546 while averaging 29 homers and 103 RBIs per season. Before that, though, he was signed by the Expos out of the Dominican Republic, spent his first eight years in Montreal and put up monstrous numbers in his last six, batting .326/.395/.600 while averaging 37 homers and 110 RBIs.
First, Guerrero -- .318/.379/.553 career slash line, 449 homers, 181 stolen bases and one of the best outfield arms in history -- actually has to get in the Hall of Fame.
"I'm not thinking about that right now," said Guerrero, who's eligible to enter with the 2017 class. "I just hope that God gives me good health, and I'll just wait and see what happens."
Angel Stadium's wall markers get 'true distance' updates
ANAHEIM -- The numbers on the outfield walls are different, but no, Angel Stadium's dimensions have not changed.
The left-field line has gone from 330 feet to 347. Left-center has gone from 387 to 390. Center field went from 400 to 396. And down the right-field line, where the fence curves in similar to Fenway Park, the sign has gone from 330 to 350.
Tim Mead, Angels vice president of communications, said the numbers now read "true distance," accounting for the exact distance from home plate based on where the number is located. Last year, the number closest to the foul pole was reflecting the distance down the line, even though the sign sits 15 to 20 feet away from it.
"Now," Mead said, "we're actually just putting the correct number of where those distances are."
Scioscia getting fit this season
ANAHEIM -- Mike Scioscia is lighter than he's been in a long time.
The Angels' manager, entering his 15th season, proudly said Monday that he's shed 40 1/2 pounds since he started dieting on Nov. 1 and wants to shed 25 more this season.
"I was born 10 pounds, 12 ounces," Scioscia said, "and I've been trying to lose weight ever since."
Scioscia said his diet is "not rocket science," he's simply eating healthier and exercising regularly. His motivation, Scioscia said, was "really my wife saying enough is enough. She wants me to be healthy."
"I'm going to keep going," Scioscia added. "I've got another 25 pounds that are on my docket to lose."
• Dane De La Rosa (right forearm strain) threw an inning in a Minor League game on Thursday and Saturday and is slated to pitch in a simulated game at Angel Stadium on Tuesday, just before venturing out on a rehab assignment. He looks lined up to be activated by the time the Angels return from a six-game trip, for the April 11 home game against the Mets.
• Sean Burnett (recovery from August elbow surgery) expects to pitch in a simulated game on Wednesday, then probably head to Arizona to appear in games there. On not being active for Opening Day, Burnett said, "Yeah, it's frustrating, but we're going in the right direction."
• Brian Moran (left elbow inflammation) is playing catch in Arizona, and Scioscia said he's "close" to getting off a mound. Moran hasn't since appearing in a game on March 12.
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.