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Weaver knows he can count on family

Weaver knows he can count on family

OAKLAND -- Sunday is Jered Weaver's 27th birthday. It has been the best of seasons and the worst of seasons, a season to celebrate and a season to mourn.

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Angels at a glance
2009 record: 97-65
2008 record: 100-62
AL West champs

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Figgins: Staying true
Angels: Road warriors
Figgins/Abreu: Spark plugs
Bullpen: Stepping up
Figgins: The ignitor
Scioscia: Fundamental key
Vlad: Focused on present
Hatcher: Enjoying success
Scioscia: Approach the key
Aybar: More than just glove
Morales: Putting it together
Abreu: Lauded by 'mates
Wilson: Not alone
Vlad: Resume builder
Weaver: Family matters
Abreu: Hall of Famer?
Saunders: Overcame injury
Lackey: Playoff veteran
Kazmir: Ties to Morales
Jepsen: Remembering Nick
Weaver: Path to pros
Hunter: Humbled by honor
Lackey: It all began in '02
Weaver: Growing as player
Reagins: Built from within
Morales: Back in the groove
Abreu: Influence extends
Scioscia: Catcher at heart
Lackey: Halos' leader
Morales: Gomez's legacy
Abreu: Embracing his role
Jepsen: Honoring Adenhart
Lackey: Takes place as ace
Weaver: Glue of staff
Scioscia: Postseason fixture
Morales: Perseverance
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Weaver gained new stature professionally, lifting his game to a higher level. He also lost one of his best friends. Nick Adenhart perished in the first week of the season after a horrendous car crash that also claimed friends Courtney Stewart and Nick Pearson and severely injured another passenger, Jon Wilhite.

In that darkest of hours, Weaver naturally turned to his family. His parents were there for him, and so was big brother Jeff, who has always been a guiding light, whether the man now pitching for the Dodgers realized it or not.

"Obviously, when something like that happens, that's where you go first -- to your family," Jered said. "I talked to my mom and dad, and to Jeff. It was a rough time, losing someone I was getting so close to. It's been very difficult, obviously, from that standpoint."

Another family -- his teammates -- also provided support for Weaver in the weeks that turned into months following the loss of the 22-year-old athlete who had the extraordinary gifts of pitching baseballs and making people feel good in his presence.

"Being around the guys, all of us going through the same thing, that helped us all get through it," Weaver said. "There was always somebody to talk to, and that helped out a lot."

It will be hard for any award he receives down the road to approach the emotional attachment Weaver will have to the inaugural Nick Adenhart Award, presented to him as the Angels' Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.

"It's a tremendous honor," Weaver said. "Not only that teammates voted on it, but that it was named after Nick. "It's something I'll be able to hang up and remember him by.

"I'll be able to look at it and remember what a good person, teammate and friend he was."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia has applauded Weaver's work through 33 starts.

"Weav has been the rock of our rotation this year," Scioscia said. "He's made every start and always gives us a chance to win. So Weav getting the Nick Adenhart Award is very special."

Weaver's season is far from over. A major assignment looms in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Red Sox at Angel Stadium.

Like Ervin Santana this season, Weaver was the odd man out of the rotation last October -- but he didn't let it bother him. In fact, he flourished in relief, pitching two scoreless innings in Game 3 and claiming the lone Angels victory in the series at Fenway Park.

Weaver stepped up his game significantly this season, gaining natural physical maturity along with expanding awareness of the subtle aspects of his craft.

"He's done a better job of getting out of tough innings, moving on to the next one," said John Lackey, who is always a model for Weaver. "I've seen a lot of growth in Jered this season on the mound. It's good to see."

Weaver had career highs in wins (16, against eight losses) along with innings pitched (211), strikeouts (174), complete games (four) and shutouts (two).

His 3.75 ERA was inflated by several substandard outings when he was going through a dead-arm period after the All-Star break.

"Every year you're going to learn something," Weaver said. "My main goal this year was getting deeper in games. I think it helped the club a lot and helped the bullpen by being able to get deeper in games, throw more innings.

"It's a good feeling any time you can stay healthy through a season. We had some injuries -- and the tragedy with Nick -- and I was able to stay out there and keep us in games. It was a good feeling to do that."

Obviously, for family reasons, the Angels' Pitcher of the Year would love to see brother Jeff, the artful Dodger, in a Freeway Series. But that is getting ahead of a story that is still being written, with a dramatic opening act on tap with the band of Bostonians who have treated the Angels so rudely in recent seasons.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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