Adenhart always in Weaver's thoughts

Adenhart always in Weaver's thoughts

Adenhart always in Weaver's thoughts
MINNEAPOLIS -- On the morning of Dec. 8, when his team signed free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, Angels ace Jered Weaver woke up to an overflow of missed calls, voicemails and texts.

His initial thought: fear.

Still in his mind was the morning of April 9, 2009, when he woke up to a similar array of messages, only to find out his teammate, Nick Adenhart, had died in a car accident a few hours earlier. On Monday, as the Angels got set to take on the Twins at Target Field, that was a thought still prevalent in Weaver's mind.

"I wish he was here," Weaver said of Adenhart on the three-year anniversary of his death. "He was a great kid. I don't think there's just one day where you remember him. There's a lot of days that go by where you think about him and wish he was still here."

In the 103 starts Weaver has made since April 9, 2009, the 29-year-old right-hander has kept the same routine: He'll say a prayer for Adenhart, then write his initials on the back of the mound just before toeing the rubber to deliver his first pitch.

"It's still tough," said Weaver, who took the mound in the first game the Angels played after Adenhart's death. "It's hard to talk about it to this day. We try to remember him as much as possible."

A product of Maryland who overcame major elbow surgery, Adenhart was taken by the Angels in the 14th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. After four years in the Minors, and a three-start big league stint in '08, Adenhart finally put it all together at Angel Stadium on April 8, 2009, hurling six shutout innings against the Athletics with his father in the stands.

Shortly after midnight, though, the 22-year-old Adenhart and two other passengers -- Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson -- were killed by a drunk driver in Fullerton, Calif. The Angels suspended their game against the A's the following day and have held several tributes since, most notably on Sept. 28, 2009 -- when players sprayed beer and champagne on an Adenhart jersey after clinching the American League West title.

Weaver's most vivid memory of Adenhart?

"He was happy-go-lucky, funny, loved to imitate people," Weaver said. "He loved coming to the field, he loved being a part of the clubhouse, a part of the guys, and not only that, he was very talented on the field, too. It was definitely a tragedy, and it's still tough to talk about to this day."