ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels hitting coach Don Baylor had surgery on his broken right leg Tuesday, a day after getting hurt while catching the ceremonial first pitch on opening day.
Manager Mike Scioscia has no idea how long Baylor will be out of uniform, but he expects to consult regularly with the 64-year-old former Rockies and Cubs manager during his recovery.
“Don is one tough guy,” Scioscia said. “He’s not giving in to anything. He wants to get this done, wants to come back and wants to help us. Once the surgery gets done, let’s see what he can do. He’s trying to put his best foot forward.”
Baylor, who joined the Los Angeles coaching staff in October, was in surgery while the Angels prepared for their second game against the Seattle Mariners, attempting to move forward after the injury cast a pall on their season before it even began.
“I still can’t believe what happened, I really can’t,” Angels assistant hitting coach Dave Hansen said. “That shock is still there. I just can’t get that out of my head. … We’ll hold him close and give him as much support as we can.”
Hansen will take over while Baylor is out, and the Angels added minor-league hitting coordinator Paul Sorrento to the major league staff to assist him.
Baylor, who spent six of his 19 major league seasons as a player in Anaheim, was hurt while merely squatting to catch the first pitch from Vladimir Guerrero. The two former Angels sluggers are the only AL MVPs in franchise history.
Baylor was helped off the field shortly before Jered Weaver took the mound. The Angels had little chance to process the bizarre injury before the game, but it began to sink in after the 10-3 loss.
Hansen said the Angels’ coaches all called Baylor after the game to express their support and sympathy — but Baylor only wanted to talk about how his hitters had performed against Felix Hernandez.
“He’s probably strapped up there, knee in a brace, and he’s wondering how our boys did,” Hansen said with a laugh. “We were as sad as we can be, and he’s thinking about hitting.”
Baylor clearly has made an impact on the Angels in just a few months on their coaching staff. The Angels already refer to Baylor as Groove, the nickname bestowed on him by Frank Robinson during his playing days.
Recovery from a broken femur can take several months, but the Angels aren’t speculating on Baylor’s availability for coaching.
“Knowing Don, he’s going to want to come on our next road trip,” Scioscia said. “He’ll be watching the games and have input for sure. … Don will be connected, even if he’s not able to get out physically to the ballpark. He’ll watch video. He’ll text me opinions on lineups. Don has a really good feel for that.”
Sorrento, the former major league first baseman, interviewed for the chance to replace Jim Eppard last winter, but the Angels hired Baylor and Hansen. Sorrento’s familiarity with Scioscia and the Angels’ system made him a natural fit for the job while Baylor is out.
“The one thing we can’t replace is Don’s presence, and we’re going to miss that moving forward,” Scioscia said.