ANAHEIM -- Angels owner Arte Moreno and general manager Tony Reagins both expressed pleasure that the club clinched its fifth American League West title in the past six years on Monday, but both also acknowledged it came with heavy hearts.
After all, this season has been a challenge for the Angels as the club had to battle though the deaths of both longtime consultant Preston Gomez, who died in January at age 86, and pitcher Nick Adenhart, who died in a car accident on April 9 just hours after pitching in his first game of the season.
"I look at [winning the division] as for both Preston Gomez and Nick Adenhart," Moreno said. "Preston was [Mike Scioscia's] mentor, so losing Preston and then losing Nick was rough."
The Angels honored both Gomez and Adenhart with patches on their jerseys all season while also keeping Adenhart's locker intact at home and on the road.
And the club further honored the two by continuing to play baseball just the way Gomez and Adenhart would've wanted by clinching its third straight division title.
"It's been a challenge, but the guys stepped up," Reagins said. "The most important thing is that we stay focused and Mike did a great job keeping us focused in that regard."
Scioscia admitted it was a challenge to keep the focus, especially after the unexpected loss of Adenhart, but that the team thought of Adenhart every step of the way.
"We remembered Nick before we started every game," Scioscia said. "He's been with us the whole year. We've been playing with heavy hearts."
So while the club will not soon forget both the memories of Adenhart and Gomez, Moreno said the next challenge will be to win the World Series in their honor this season.
"Our goal is to a win a championship and we still haven't accomplished what we want to do," Moreno said. "We still have a lot of work to do."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.