07/15/09 1:13 AM ET
Speedy Figgins dashes to St. Louis
Third baseman a late addition, but neither Angel gets in game
By T.R Sullivan / MLB.com
Keith Johnson, an Angels Minor League coach and good friend, was staying with him. Otherwise Figgins might never have made it to the 80th All-Star Game as a reserve for the American League."Tim Mead, the Angels' P.R. director, called me, but I was sleeping," Figgins said. "So he called Garret Anderson. He called my uncle and he called my mom. She couldn't get ahold of me so she called my uncle back. He called Keith. "Keith came in and banged on the door to my bedroom. I almost panicked. I said, 'What's wrong?' He said, 'Wake up, you're going to the All-Star Game.' " That's how Figgins found himself on a noon flight from Los Angeles to St. Louis for his first All-Star Game. Figgins was a last-minute replacement on Tuesday for Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, who had to miss the game because of an infection in the ring finger of his right hand. "I couldn't sleep on the plane," Figgins said. "I just wanted to make it to the introductions so I could stand on the line with everybody else." His plane was scheduled to land at 5:20 CT, but it arrived about the same time as Air Force One. President Obama was flying in for the game, and Figgins' plane had to wait. Figgins joked that he thought about asking the president for a ride to the game. "That would have been nice, but I don't think that would have worked," said Figgins, who received a police escort instead. "We still had to take an alternate route because of the president. But having a police escort was cool. That was my All-Star parade." He walked into the clubhouse at 6:30 p.m., about 10 minutes before it was time to go out for the player introductions and opening ceremonies. He didn't get to meet the president, who had already toured the American League clubhouse, but he did get to say hi to Angels owner Arte Moreno. Figgins also didn't play in the game. AL manager Joe Maddon picked Figgins because of his versatility and because he could have a possible impact in multiple ways at the end of game. Figgins ended up not being needed but was hardly upset. "It's never disappointing," Figgins said. "Obviously somebody thought I was deserving of being an All-Star and worked hard to get me here. That's all that matters. I would have loved to have gotten in the game, but for one night I was able to stand on that line and say I was an All-Star." Figgins said his biggest thrill was "just being able to come in here and congratulate everybody. I made it a point of congratulating everybody." Angels reliever Brian Fuentes also didn't get in the game. He did warm up in the eighth inning in case he was needed against National League outfielder Brad Hawpe of Colorado but that never materialized. Minnesota's Joe Nathan, with two on and two out, struck out Philadelphia's Ryan Howard to end the threat and then the Yankees' Mariano Rivera finished the game in the ninth. Fuentes has been to four All-Star Games, including three while with the Rockies, but has pitched only once. When with the Rockies, he threw a scoreless inning for the National League in 2006 in Pittsburgh. "I've pitched in an All-Star Game before," Fuentes said. "If I had never pitched before, that would be one thing. But this game means a lot, so I'm really happy we won." That victory might end up being significant for the Angels. The All-Star Game determines home-field advantage in the World Series and the Angels are currently in first place in the American League West. Figgins and Fuentes probably prefer playing in a World Series game in Anaheim to an All-Star Game in St. Louis. But they still had a memorable night, especially Figgins.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.