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OC Register: Angels tragedy brings back difficult memories for Jeff Mathis


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ARLINGTON, Texas — When the news about Tyler Skaggs hit the Texas Rangers clubhouse on Monday afternoon, Jeff Mathis had a familiar, sickening feeling.

“Just a pit in my stomach,” Mathis said. “Those are some tough memories, thinking about what those guys are going through in that situation. It’s awful.”

The Rangers’ veteran catcher was with the Angels in 2009 when Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver. He was also with the Miami Marlins in 2016, when José Fernández died in a boating accident.

This time, he was in the Rangers clubhouse when Manager Chris Woodward told his team what had happened to the club they were supposed to play that night.

Mathis spoke from painful experience on Thursday, as he described what the Angels have and will go through as they try to move past Skaggs’ stunning passing.

“There’s no right way to handle it, no right way to go about it,” Mathis said. “I just remember the biggest thing for me was to try to be around each other as much as I could. Whether it’s my family or my teammates, just sticking together and being there for one another.”

The situations with Adenhart and Fernández were significantly different in one respect. Adenhart died in the season’s first week, while Fernández died just before the end of the season.

“With José it was at the end of the year so going back home, the different setting sort of helped out,” Mathis said. “Not being in the clubhouse and walking by his locker every day. With Nick, it was early in the year and it took a while. It took a while… Day  by day, it kept getting a little easier, but for a while it was pretty tough.”

Two players in the Angels clubhouse dealt with losing teammates during the season. Albert Pujols was on the St. Louis Cardinals when Darryl Kile died in 2002 and Justin Bour was with the Marlins in 2016.

“I know how tough it’s going to be every single day,” Bour said. “It takes a really long time for it to sink in. It still sometimes, it just doesn’t. Like the guys say, reserve your sorrow for Skaggs’ family, for his wife. We’re going to keep grinding every day and playing hard and playing with his spirit. That’s really all I can say.”

LA STELLA WILL GO TO ALL-STAR GAME

Tommy La Stella was despondent on Wednesday when asked if he might still go to the All-Star Game, even though a broken leg cost him his chance to play, but on Thursday Manager Brad Ausmus said he’d decided to go.

“He should,” Ausmus said. “He deserved it. He earned it. He won’t be able to play, but he gets to enjoy all the festivities surrounding the game, watch the Home Run Derby, any of the parties. They do a nice job of treating the players very well. He’d regret it if he didn’t go experience it.”

Ausmus said La Stella was initially concerned that he would “be in the way, with crutches, and he didn’t want to be a bother, but I hopefully tried to convince him that’s not the case at all.”

ALSO

Justin Upton was not in the lineup a day after coming out of the game with tightness in his left quad. He said Thursday that he was feeling about the same as the night before. Although the injury doesn’t appear to be serious, Ausmus said he’s didn’t have an idea whether Upton would be able to play on Friday…

Albert Pujols was not in the lineup for a second straight day, although Ausmus said it was not related to the foul ball he took off the foot on Tuesday. Bour had hit .290 with four homers and a 1.045 OPS since returning from Triple-A…

Kevan Smith, who is out with a left hand injury, is still unable to swing a bat, Ausmus said…

The Angels optioned Jaime Barría and recalled Taylor Cole. Barría would not be able to start again before the All-Star break, so the Angels called up a fresh reliever instead.

UP NEXT

Angels (opener before RHP Félix Peña, 5-2, 4.73) at Astros (RHP Justin Verlander, 10-3, 2.86), 5:10 p.m., Fox Sports West

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11 minutes ago, ten ocho recon scout said:

Didnt realize Mathis was in Florida when Fernandez died. 

Off topic, but with all the crap we used to give him, who would have thought out of the wood, naps, kotchman and aybar era, hed be the last man standing?

Me 

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1 hour ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

I looked it up tonight. He’s the 2nd guy in major league history to have 2500+ AB while hitting under .200, and the other guy played in like 1910.

Clearly, his defense is given a high value, for him to stick around. 

I talked to some guys a couple of years ago about it. Hes been praised by pitchers and pitching coaches around the league. He'll have a job as long as he wants to keep playing. 

Definitely value beyond numbers.

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5 hours ago, GrittyVeterans said:

Howie still plays too. But yeah, it’s crazy

I left howie out just because hes still playing. And to be fair, howie had a lot of hype coming up, and beside the batting champ thing, has lived up to it.

But the other guys were just as hyped. And seemed (even were) way better back when they all first came up. Its funny how mathis seemed like a total bust, but here he is going on 15 years give or take. Job offer every year. Pretty cool to see.

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On 7/4/2019 at 8:51 PM, Jeff Fletcher said:

I looked it up tonight. He’s the 2nd guy in major league history to have 2500+ AB while hitting under .200, and the other guy played in like 1910.

Clearly, his defense is given a high value, for him to stick around. 

 

On 7/5/2019 at 1:46 AM, ten ocho recon scout said:

I talked to some guys a couple of years ago about it. Hes been praised by pitchers and pitching coaches around the league. He'll have a job as long as he wants to keep playing. 

Definitely value beyond numbers.

Fangraphs recently re-vamped their catcher defense portion of WAR, which has changed catcher valuation quite substantially. In the past they said it was the missing link in WAR. Anyhow, Mathis has very strong Def numbers: 133.7 Def runs in 886 games. That's 24.5 Def per 162 games, which is quite good.

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On 7/5/2019 at 4:46 AM, ten ocho recon scout said:

I talked to some guys a couple of years ago about it. Hes been praised by pitchers and pitching coaches around the league. He'll have a job as long as he wants to keep playing. 

He'll also be the Angels' manager in 2024.

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