Papa Bear Hawkins puts rookies in their place

Papa Bear Hawkins puts rookies in their place

ANAHEIM -- While playing for the Rockies in 2007, veteran Angels reliever LaTroy Hawkins came up with his own version of annual rookie hazing. Instead of having them all dress up in costumes, like most teams do, he had them carry around a teddy bear for the final two weeks of the regular season.

On Wednesday, he brought that concept to the Angels clubhouse. Mike Trout got a Hello Kitty-looking one, Kole Calhoun's is purple and Garrett Richards got one that lights up and even talks.

"My new best friend," Richards, within earshot, beamed. "It's right next to my bed so I don't forget it."

Hawkins has found it to be a good conversation starter.

"They see grown men carrying a teddy bear, people ask questions, right?" the 39-year-old right-hander said. "So they get to tell them what they're doing and what they do for a living and why they have to do it. Who knows, somebody might meet their wife."

The expectation is that the Angels' rookies carry these teddy bears with them everywhere they go until the end of the regular season on Oct. 3. To the grocery story, to the mall, to bed, to the ballpark -- everywhere that's not the actual baseball field. If they're caught without it, Hawkins said there will be "special repercussions."

"Just camaraderie," Hawkins said when asked for the reason behind it. "Young guys, listening to the older guys, knowing their place in the clubhouse. You have to crawl before you walk around here. You just don't get here and start walking. We have some great young guys here, but it's a process that we all have to go through."

And that includes Trout, the potential American League Most Valuable Player.

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki "had to carry one in '07," Hawkins said, "and he loved it."