Touched by the Angels? Good news: We're forecasting a 100% chance of surprises this season.
Updated: March 31, 2003, 11:34 AM ETBy By Tim Keown, ESPN The Magazine
On Sept. 18 of last year, a 20-year-old, 175-pound pitcher from Venezuela balanced a Bud Selig-autographed baseball in his right hand for the first time and changed the course of an entire season. One unknown kid with two pitches and no track record stormed the party and overturned every table in the place. Overstatement? Hardly. The Francisco Rodriguez revelation begat the Anaheim Angels revolution, which served as further testament to the enduring wisdom of an old sage named Joaquin Andujar: You never know. Arizona's Luis Gonzalez may not be a sage, but he's old enough to know what he doesn't know. Every March, Gonzo conducts a spring training exercise to prepare himself for the unexpected emergence of a phenom such as K-Rod. He introduces himself to every single player in the Diamondbacks' camp, regardless of age or potential relevance. He shakes hands, asks a few pertinent questions and wishes the wide-eyed kid good luck. Guys with no chance get the same treatment as the can't-miss prospects.