"Batting ninth in right field, number 64, Terry Evans!"
The approving crescendo cascading from the Halos faithful was but an exclamation point. Three days after being called up from Triple-A Salt Lake, Evans made his first Major League start in the series finale against visiting Houston on Wednesday. Being slowly eased into the lineup apparently wasn't much of an option.
"I didn't really know what to expect coming up here," Evans said. "I knew that everyone was playing really well up here. Everybody was swinging the bat real well, so I didn't exactly know where my place might fit in. But to get a start four days into it is definitely something to be excited about. It's hard to keep a smile off your face."
The shaggy-haired 25-year-old from Middle Georgia Junior College made his Major League debut in the conclusion to the Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. Two hours after blasting the 10th home run of his 2007 Minor League campaign in a 4-3 loss to Portland on Saturday, Evans was on a flight, trading the Beaver State for the Golden State.
After touching down in Los Angeles, Evans saw limited action in the 10-4 rout of the rival Dodgers, making his debut as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning while manning the post vacated by Garret Anderson in left field. His first appearance in a Major League batter's box ended with a strikeout, a far cry from his last Minor League at-bat. While at Salt Lake, Evans boasted a .327 average to go with his 10 round-trippers and 45 RBIs.
"He's made adjustments in his game and really the last two-and-a-half years, he's really put it together," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's having a terrific year this year in Triple-A and we have the confidence to give him some at-bats and see what he can do in right field tonight."
What he did was spectacular. His second big-league at-bat, his first Wednesday night, resulted in a two-run homer to left on a 3-1 pitch from Houston lefty Wandy Rodriguez.
Evan's father, Michael, watched from the stands Sunday, having flown in from Georgia after getting word that his son was to don an Angels uniform. He will return south on Saturday morning after taking a week-long reprieve from work to watch his son's first start.
"I don't know who's more excited, me or him," Evans said of his dad. "We've had a good week here, so this is just one more thing we get to enjoy."
Evans' "supporting cast" back home will also be watching intently, getting intimately acquainted with every development via television, Internet and cell phone.
In spite of the hometown fervor he's generated, Evans maintained that he doesn't want to "put too much emphasis" on his current big-league stint.
"I don't want to build a career around my first start," Evans said. "It's definitely a step in the right direction to go ahead and contribute tonight and set myself up to further contribute down the road. I'm just going to make the most of every opportunity I'm given while I'm here."
Down on the farm: First baseman Gordie Gronkowski slugged three hits with a double, two runs scored and an RBI to lead the Orem Owlz in a 4-3 loss to the Ogden Raptors in the Pioneer League season opener Tuesday.
Right fielder Trevor Pippin, the Angels' fourth-round pick out of Middle Georgia Community College, added a pair of hits with two RBIs.
On deck: After an off-day, right-hander Jered Weaver looks to improve upon his scoreless, four-hit performance through 5 1/3 innings against the Dodgers on Saturday when he shares the mound with Pittsburgh southpaw Zach Duke on Friday at Angel Stadium at 7:05 p.m. PT.
Larry Santana is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less