Salt Lake Bees: Opening Day postponed following Adenhart death
"It's something I've been trying to realize since I was a little kid. So it's exciting," he told the Deseret News last spring. "I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. I understand what I can do and what I need to do."
Adenhart got off to a hot start in Salt Lake, going 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA in five April starts. He threw eight scoreless innings in a win over Fresno late in the month. Four days later, on May 1, the right-hander made his big
league debut with the Angels.
On May 12, Adenhart earned his first win in the majors with a victory over the Chicago White Sox. He later returned to Salt Lake and threw a shutout in the Bees' division-clinching win over Portland on Aug. 27.
The game was one of Mitchell's fondest memories of Adenhart, who said he was glad Salt Lake lost the night before so he could take the mound in the title-clinching game.
"That's kind of the way he was. He wanted to pitch in a big game and he was very effective, obviously, in that game," said Mitchell. "We clinched it and he was very happy."
Adenhart finished the season with Salt Lake, where he wound up going 9-13 with a 5.76 ERA. He bounced back from his struggles with a terrific spring, however, posting a 3-0 record with a 3.12 ERA with 18 strikeouts and
only five walks, to earn an opening day spot in the Angels' rotation.
"He came to spring training very focused and prepared," said Mitchell.
In the hours before his death, Adenhart made his fourth career start in the majors. He scattered seven hits and struck out five over six scoreless innings.
Seeing him pitch so well that night and then suddenly being gone the next morning, Mitchell noted, is difficult to comprehend. It's hard to believe such things can happen so fast, he remarked.
"The Angels family has suffered a tremendous loss today. We are deeply saddened and shocked by this tragic loss," said Angels general manager Tony Reagins. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nick's family, friends, loved ones and fans."
Mitchell said Adenhart's father, Jim, attended Wednesday's game in Anaheim. It was the first time in about five years that he was able to watch his son pitch.
It proved to a bittersweet bright spot in a tragic situation that unfolded when Adenhart was heading home from the stadium.
"It's such a sudden thing that's happened that it's hard to deal with," said Mitchell, who acknowledged that several of Adenhart's former teammates were struggling with the news. "They're dealing with it the best they can,
but it's going to take some time to do that."
Mitchell led a team meeting Thursday afternoon where Adenhart's death was discussed.
"You could tell by their faces that they were very hurt and saddened by it," said Mitchell. "It was very difficult for me ... Everyone was just kind of numb."
Mitchell watched Adenhart pitch on television Wednesday evening and was shocked to learn of the player's passing early in the morning.
"I can't say enough about Nick and what he meant to all of us," he said.
In a twist of fate, Adenhart would likely have opened the season in Salt Lake instead of Los Angeles if it weren't for injuries to starters John Lackey and Ervin Santana.
Even though the Angels were impressed with what Adenhart accomplished in the spring, he didn't move into the starting rotation until Lackey and
Santana were sidelined.
"It's kind of ironic that he would end up there and this would happen," said Mitchell. "I don't know. God works in strange ways and has a plan for everybody. And it's just hard for us to fathom sometimes and accept. But
it's just a tough situation. He went out on a good note."
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