Angels' Jered Weaver flies under the radar from high on the mound

Jered Weaver

Angels ace Jered Weaver is third on the club's all-time wins list with 118. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images / May 16, 2014)

Jered Weaver is so much more than 6 feet 7 inches of kneecaps and elbows and snapping wrist coming at opposing batters.

True, when he is effective — which is most of the time — hitting his pitches is like swatting the queen bee out of a swarming hive. You don't know where the pitches are coming from, whether they will be 69 miles an hour or 89, or whether they will dip or dart.

Two things happen if you try to time them. You get lucky and fly out to center, or you miss and sprain your hip.

That was kind of how it went Wednesday night for the Angels ace. He threw a two-hitter, went the distance with only 94 pitches and beat the Astros, 2-1. That brought his record to 5-3 and his earned-run average to 2.85.

He started the season 0-2 and had a 5.79 ERA. Those who follow the game closely weren't worried.

He is in his ninth season with the Angels, is third on the Angels all-time win list with 118 and probably will pass No. 1 Chuck Finley and No. 2 Nolan Ryan, because he is only 31 and wants to stay with the Angels for his career. He can catch Finley with 47 wins. He is third on the team behind those two in career strikeouts, too.

Those are statistics. In Weaver's case, more than that makes the man.

This exchange Friday night in the Angels clubhouse is a good measure:

Curmudgeon columnist: "Time to write a column about you."

Weaver: "Why?"

CC: "Because, as good as you are, on this team — with Albert Pujols hitting homers like crazy and Mike Trout slumping and then hitting walk-off homers and Josh Hamilton about to come back and Garrett Richards looking like Cy Young — you kind of fly under the radar."

Weaver: "Under the radar is good."

Under the radar isn't quite accurate for a right-handed pitching star who goes well beyond merely distinguishing himself on the field.

Three years ago, he flew in the face of the usual player greed by taking a salary that left millions on the table. He signed for five more years and $85 million and, with hard-charging Scott Boras as his agent, left many in the game stunned.

How did he convince Boras to sign off on that deal?

"Not sure I ever did," Weaver says.

His statement the day of the contract was something you don't often hear: "How much money do you need?" he asked rhetorically.

The professional sports world tilted on its axis. For Weaver, it wasn't that hard. He grew up in Simi Valley, played at Long Beach State and wanted to play where family and friends could see him. Plus, there was strong parental influence.

"My dad was an electrical contractor," Weaver says. "He'd be crawling around in attics all day. He was up at 4 a.m., home at 6 p.m., fought the traffic and went right to bed.

"What I was getting was more than enough to support my family's needs, and the needs of my family in generations to come.

CHICAGO

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