Moving on without ‘Groove’ …

Don BaylorWhen 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 coach Dave Hansen, who played for the Mariners when Baylor was the hitting coach there in 2005 and will now take over for him on the interim.

“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 underwent surgery at about 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday, but results aren’t available just yet. Recovery time for a fractured femur is usually a minimum 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.

“He’s one tough dude,” Hansen said.

“Knowing Don, he’ll want to come on the next road trip,” Scioscia said. “He’s going to have an impact for sure — watching video, texting, staying connected – whether he’s here or not.”

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 (video can be found here, but it’s pretty graphic). He remained stoic, slowly tried 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.

Minor League hitting coordinator Paul Sorrento 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.”

Mariners (1-0)

Abraham Almonte, CF
Brad Miller, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Justin Smoak, 1B
Corey Hart, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Stefen Romero, RF
Dustin Ackley, LF
John Buck, C

SP: RH Erasmo Ramirez (0-0, -.– ERA)

Angels (0-1)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Josh Hamilton, LF
David Freese, 3B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Hank Conger, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: LH C.J. Wilson (0-0, -.– ERA)

Alden

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