TEMPE, Ariz. -- Fernando Rodney was on the mound for the Angels on Thursday night, two outs, two on, with Pat Burrell in the batter's box. Out in center field, Peter Bourjos was shading the Giants' slugger toward left-center at Scottsdale Stadium, where the light standards are a few levels shy of Major League quality.
As the ball rocketed off Burrell's bat toward right-center, two runs and extra bases seemed like certainties. But Bourjos, with a lightning-quick break, was flying as only he and an elite few baseball players can. Bourjos reached the ball in full flight in deepest right-center, drawing gasps from the crowd -- and startled looks in the scouts' section behind home plate.
"Willie Mays ... Paul Blair ... Garry Maddox, maybe Curt Flood," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, when asked in the afterglow how many center fielders could have made that play. It is not Scioscia's style to overstate such things.
According to Bourjos, who made a habit of such jaw-dropping plays for the Angels last August and September, there was one person in the ballpark who thought he'd make the play: his father Chris, a scout for the Orioles.
"I honestly didn't think I could get there off the bat," Bourjos said. "My dad said, 'When it was hit, I thought you were gonna get to it. I've seen you make that play going back to high school [at Scottsdale Notre Dame, not far from the Giants' spring park].'
"He was scouting, and my mom was with him. It was pretty cool for them, seeing how the other scouts reacted. It was probably a better feeling for him than me, really."
Chris Bourjos was a Giants outfielder with a strong arm, whose Major League experience was limited to 13 games and five hits -- one a homer -- in 1980.
"All the scouts joke with him, asking him, 'Where'd Pete get his speed -- from his mom?'" Bourjos said through a handsome smile. "I used to race against my mom when I was a kid, and she was fast. My dad broke his leg playing basketball and had 11 screws in his knee, so I couldn't race him after I was little."
Bourjos will open the season in center for the Angels. He hopes to carry the improved plate discipline and consistent contact from a superb spring into the season opener on March 31 at Kansas City. He came into Saturday's game against the Indians batting .344 with a .463 on-base percentage, and has been successful on all four of his stolen-base attempts.