Weaver, Ay­bar, Scios­cia have a bond

Los Angeles Times - - BASEBALL PREVIEW - By Kevin Bax­ter kevin.bax­ter@la­times.com

When Jered Weaver walks to the mound Mon­day in Seat­tle, it will mark the start of his 10th sea­son pitch­ing for the An­gels and Mike Scios­cia. Only one big league player has spent more time with the same manager, and he’ll be stand­ing at short­stop.

Erick Ay­bar made his An­gels de­but 11 days be­fore Weaver in May 2006.

For Scios­cia, be­gin­ning his 16th sea­son with the An­gels, it’s no co­in­ci­dence that base­ball’s longest­tenured manager has the longest­tenured pitcher and po­si­tion player on his team.

“A manager’s not go­ing to be able to stay in one place un­less you have good play­ers that are pro­duc­ing,” Scios­cia said Satur­day be­fore the An­gels’ spring-train­ing fi­nale with the Dodgers. “And those guys are as good as there are at their re­spec­tive po­si­tions.”

What makes them stand out even more, though, is the fact they’re still with the team that signed them. Dur­ing the 2014 off­sea­son, more than 270 play­ers changed uni­forms. The last time Weaver and Ay­bar had a chance to leave, both signed mul­ti­year deals to stay, ar­guably at a dis­count.

“When you have so many years with a team, you know ev­ery­one,” Ay­bar, who signed with the An­gels as a free agent in 2002, said in Span­ish. “The manager, the coaches, the front of­fice. You feel at home.

“Af­ter this much time, it’s a fam­ily.”

More than that ac­tu­ally since both play­ers were raised as An­gels be­fore they be­gan rear­ing their own chil­dren. And both were en­gaged to Scios­cia be­fore they were be­trothed to their wives.

“I think we’ve grown a pretty good re­la­tion­ship over the years,” said Weaver, who was se­lected by the An­gels in the first round of the 2004 draft. “He’s been some­one that I look up to and ad­mire. We trust in each other.

“There’s no­body else I’d want to go to war with.”

Or to the su­per­mar­ket since Weaver and Scios­cia, off-sea­son neigh­bors in West­lake Vil­lage, oc­ca­sion­ally run into one an­other while shop­ping.

For Ay­bar, though, the re­la­tion­ship with the only big league manager he has known is more about com­fort and suc­cess than gro­cery shop­ping.

Ay­bar played less than two months at triple A be­fore join­ing the An­gels as a 22-year-old. Two years later, he was the team’s start­ing short­stop and has gone on to win a Gold Glove and be on an Al­lS­tar team since.

“It’s a bless­ing to be with one team this many years,” said Ay­bar, a .277 ca­reer hit­ter. “The peo­ple are the same. The rules are the same.”

Weaver feels much the same. Mon­day’s start will be his sev­enth on open­ing day, a fran­chise record. It will also make him the first player to start a game for the same manager in 10 con­sec­u­tive sea­sons since Greg Mad­dux pitched for Bobby Cox and the At­lanta Braves from 1993 to 2003.

Weaver has a .655 win­ning per­cent­age over those 10 years, sec­ond only to the Dodgers’ Clay­ton Ker­shaw among ac­tive pitch­ers with at least 100 starts.

“I’ve been pretty for­tu­nate to be able to stay in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and stick with one team,” he said. “A lot of guys … kind of bounce around and go to where the money is and all that kind of stuff. I’ve been pretty for­tu­nate to be able to stay in a win­ning or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Ros­ter is set

The An­gels fi­nal­ized their regu- lar-sea­son ros­ter.

Left-han­ders Jose Al­varez and Ce­sar Ramos made the eight-man bullpen as did right-han­ders Vin­nie Pes­tano and Drew Rucinski. First base­man-out­fielder Efren Navarro and in­fielder Tay­lor Feather­ston also made the team as re­serves.

Mon­day will mark the first ap­pear­ance on an open­ing-day ros­ter for Al­varez, Rucinski, Navarro and Feather­ston.

Chris Carl­son As­so­ci­ated Press

WHEN JERED WEAVER , left, pitches Mon­day at Seat­tle, it will be his sev­enth con­sec­u­tive open­ing-day start for the An­gels un­der Manager Mike Scios­cia, right.

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