Baylor has surgery on femur as Hansen takes over
ANAHEIM -- When Angels coaches passed the phone around late Monday night, shortly after a 10-3 Opening Day loss to the Mariners, Don Baylor's first reaction from UCI Medical Center was, "How'd our hitters do?"
When Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead checked in on Tuesday morning, hours before he would undergo surgery for a fractured right femur, Baylor had just one question: "What do you think is the best way to get me in the clubhouse on crutches?"
"That's the kind of guy we're dealing with, man," said Angels assistant hitting coach Dave Hansen, who played for the Mariners when Baylor was the hitting coach there in 2005 and will now take over for him in the interim.
Hansen, the former hitting coach in Seattle who was hired along with Baylor this offseason, will simply continue to implement Baylor's program. That program, Hansen said, involves "consistency, each at-bat at a time, focus, that kind of stuff. Very simple, actually. It's more of a competitive edge, and I do like that. Really that's it and taking it day by day. Believing in each other. He's very big on that -- accountability to each other."
Baylor underwent successful surgery at 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday. The procedure, which lasted more than five hours, involved fixing the fracture with a metal plate and screws and will require Baylor to be at UCI Medical Center for at least two more days.
A fractured femur -- located in the thigh, and typically the longest and strongest bone in the body -- requires a minimum recovery time of 12 weeks, and may be longer for somebody who's 64 years old and was previously afflicted by multiple myeloma, a cancer that attacks plasma cells in the bone marrow.
But Baylor is cut from a different cloth.
"Don's one tough guy," Angels manager Mike Scioscia added. "He's not giving in to anything. He wants to get back and help us. He'll get this done and we'll see exactly where he is, what he can do."
Baylor crouched down for Vladimir Guerrero's ceremonial first pitch on Monday night, his left knee on the dirt. The throw came in a little low, a little outside and a little fast, and Baylor's weight shifted to the right side and caused his right leg to practically buckle underneath him. He remained stoic, slowly trying to get up, but his right leg gave out, prompting the Angels' training staff to rush out to the field and help him off it. Three innings later, he was taken to the hospital.
"That shock is still there," Hansen said. "And after knowing the man, too, it's like, 'Why did that have to happen?' Seriously. I just can't get that out of my head."
Minor League hitting coordinator Paul Sorrento, who spent most of Spring Training with the Angels, has been summoned by the organization to help out on the Major League coaching staff. Rick Eckstein, a hitting coach with the Nationals the previous five years, will continue in his role as player information coach. Hansen will run the meetings, but said his workload shouldn't change too much.
The greatest void will be Baylor's presence.
"He brings a natural presence," Hansen said. "He just has that about him. Plus he's done so much on the field that demands that, too. MVP, so many years in the game, done so many things. That's a pretty big presence. I can't explain what the void will be. I'm just hoping he'll be around enough to keep his presence felt."