Amarista Dedicates Debut To Dad





LOS ANGELES On the first swing of his major league career, Alexi Amarista doubled. He drove in two runs. The Angels won.

"I was thinking about my dad," he said through a translator.

Amarista's father was shot to death in a home-invasion robbery in Venezuela last November. Just hours earlier, Amarista, 22, had spoken by telephone to his father after playing in a Venezuelan League game.

Five months later, Amarista made his major league debut. He could not give his father the game ball, but he did what he could. "I dedicate that to my dad and to my family," he said.

Amarista, a second baseman with experience in center field as well, shot up the Angels' depth chart two years ago, when he led the low Class A Midwest League in hitting with a .319/.390./468 line at Cedar Rapids. The Angels selected him as their minor league player of the year.

Still, he had not even reached Double-A this time last year. He opened 2010 with high Class A Rancho Cucamonga and batted .303/.349/.448 with 17 steals and 19 doubles in 297 at-bats. Amarista moved up to Double-A Arkansas and hit .288/.332/.325 in 191 at-bats before earning a late-season promotion to Triple-A Salt Lake.

He earned a big league callup after returning to Salt Lake and hitting .455/.483/.673 in 55 at-bats this April. Amarista is listed at 5-foot-8, which appears a few inches too generous. "He's the smallest powerful guy you've seen," outfielder Torii Hunter said.

Amarista, who signed out of Venezuela in January 2007, got off to a 2-for-9 start in five games with Los Angeles.

ANGEL FOOD

• First baseman Mark Trumbo, who led the minor leagues with 36 home runs last year, hit six in the Angels' first 32 games this year.

• A string of bad weather created havoc on the Double-A pitching staff. Arkansas was rained out on four consecutive days, and seven of 12.