Angels Find An Old Hand In Inland Empire





ANAHEIM He had lost his job with the Padres. He had just started to draw his pension from Major League Baseball.

At 62, Tom Gamboa was ready to call it a career last year. He limited his baseball to coaching a summer league team in Palm Springs, near his home on a country club in the Southern California desert.

"I started playing tournament golf," Gamboa said. "I have literally played golf each and every day for the last 365 days."

But the Angels called, and he came back to baseball. He had managed in the Angels system in 2005, leading Double-A Arkansas to the Texas League title, then left for a roving job with the Padres so he could spend more time at home.

The Angels needed a manager for their new high Class A Inland Empire affiliate in California League, within driving distance of Gamboa's home.

"I've never had the opportunity to have a job in baseball and be at home," he said.

It's not the easiest commute—about an hour each way—but Gamboa said he is happy to be back with the Angels. General manager Tony Reagins was the farm director who hired Gamboa in 2005, at the recommendation of Abe Flores, who is now the farm director.

Gamboa last managed in the Cal League in 1985. He reached the majors with the Royals and Cubs as a coach. His aspirations have changed at his age, and he talks about grooming his young coaches as well as his players.

"When I was younger, it was all about trying to move up the ladder," Gamboa said. "This is strictly me giving back to the game. I'm not looking to go anywhere from here."

Pitching coach Dan Ricabal and hitting coach Damon Mashore return to high Class A after serving in those roles last season with Rancho Cucamonga. Ricabal was a relief pitcher in 1985 for Inland Empire, then called the San Bernadino Spirit, and helped guide the team to a Cal League championship.

ANGEL FOOD

• Reagins said top Mike Trout probably will start the season at Arkansas. What chance might the 19-year-old outfielder have at arriving in Anaheim this year? "I would say it's unlikely," Reagins said.

• Inland Empire plans to wear throwback Spirit jerseys on Tuesdays this season, the jersey worn by Ken Griffey Jr. during his 58-game Class A stop in the city in 1988.