BALTIMORE (AP) — There’s only one thing missing from Matt Angle’s unforgettable first week in the major leagues: a base hit.
Angle made his debut Sunday with the Baltimore Orioles, batting leadoff and playing left field against Cleveland only hours after being summoned from Triple-A Norfolk. His wife, mom, uncle and cousin drove from Ohio to cheer him on at Camden Yards.
Angle grounded out three straight times before drawing a four-pitch walk.
His next opportunity came Tuesday, when he went 0 for 4 against Boston. He sat out Wednesday’s game, and the Orioles were off Thursday.
So, although his batting average will remain at .000 at least until Friday, Angle isn’t panicking. He waited years for a chance to play in the majors, and if it takes a while before he gets his first hit, so be it.
“Hopefully, it will come soon,” the 25-year-old said. “But at the same time, you’re still trying to have good at-bats and try not to get caught up in just getting the first hit. The longer it takes, I’m sure the more pressure it will be.”
Only his wife, Jaclyn, remains in Baltimore. The rest of his caravan had to return to Columbus, where they are cheering for Angle while watching on television.
None of them is getting impatient. Yet.
“We’re just trying to stay positive and take it day by day,” Jaclyn said. “It’s been exciting to be here, watching him do
something he’s worked forever for. I’m proud of him.”
After a successful career at Ohio State, Angle was selected by Baltimore in the seventh round of the 2007 amateur draft.
As he worked his way through Baltimore’s minor league system, the fleet-footed contact hitter longed for the day when he could slip on a uniform in a big league clubhouse, patrol the outfield and take part in a victory.
In that regard, this week has not been a disappointment.
“It’s everything I thought it would be,” Angle said. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed about as a kid. When it actually
happened, it was a great feeling. I called everyone, and now here I am.”
Angle is a 5-foot-10, 175-pounder who barely fills out his Orioles jersey. In a clubhouse with such brawny sluggers as
Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee and Matt Wieters, Angle looks more like a batboy than part of the 25-man roster.
“I walk into a clubhouse and I’m always the smallest guy there,” he said. “That’s something I’m used to.”
He doesn’t hit many home runs but can spray the ball to all fields. Against Boston, the left-handed hitter stroked a pair of
liners to left, one to center and sent a sharp grounder to first.
He has yet to swing at a pitch and miss, but is still looking for that elusive first hit.
“You always want to get that out of the way, but sometimes you can’t help it,” Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold said. “He hit the ball on the ground in the first game, and he gets a lot of infield hits like that with his speed. He’s had a good approach both games; he just doesn’t have anything to show for it.”
Angle has, however, made a favorable impression on manager Buck Showalter.
“He squared up on a couple of balls, but up here the outfielders are a little better,” Showalter said. “I can see why they think so much of him defensively. He’s a baseball player, he understands the game. So far, so good. When we ran him out there with (Adam Jones and Nick Markakis), that’s a good outfield.”
Fielding hasn’t been a problem. Blending in with his teammates has been easy. But getting that darn first hit, well, that’s been difficult.
Once that happens, Angle will have a souvenir to savor. Where he’ll put it has not yet been determined.
“I’d just like to get it first,” he said. “Then I’ll see after that.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)