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Mathis working his way back to Anaheim
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Jeff Mathis, relaxing in the cool shade of the Salt Lake dugout prior to Saturday's game with Colorado Springs, was philosophical about the freak accident that cut short his good start to the 2010 season.

"Everything happens for a reason," said the Los Angeles catcher.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia found the reason and turned it into a teaching moment.

"Sosh said, 'Where was your hand?' " Mathis recalled. " 'It was at your side.' "

Frustrating, yes, but, "It's just part of baseball. The last six weeks it's been tough doing everything with my left hand."

Mathis singled and drove in a run Saturday as the Bees (28-26) fell 7-2 to the Sky Sox (26-29) before 11,810 fans in Spring Mobile Ballpark. He also threw out a runner at second.

"He's a big presence behind the plate for us," Salt Lake manager Bobby Mitchell said. "He does a good job working with the pitchers."

He's eager to get back with the resurgent Angels, who have taken advantage of a weak A.L. West. Despite a poor start, suddenly Los Angeles is back in the race, 1 ½ games behind Texas.

"It shows what kind of guys we have," Mathis said. "We stayed together and kept our focus on what's ahead."

Mathis, still working to get his hand back to full strength, was one of several Angels who were victims of some unfortunate breaks, so to speak, this season. Kendry Morales fractured his leg when he landed awkwardly on home plate celebrating a walk-off grand slam May 29.

Mathis, scheduled to be with the Bees for their short homestand, suffered his broken right wrist blocking a ball in the dirt.

He was placed on the disabled list April 20.

Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen bounced a pitch and the ball slammed into Mathis' bare hand. Mathis stayed in the game, playing the final two innings. He is, after all, a former football player.

Mathis did complain of discomfort afterward and X-rays later revealed the fracture.

In 10 games, Mathis, 27, was hitting .324.

"For the most part, it feels good," Mathis said.

Mathis played 278 games for Salt Lake between 2005 and 2007, hitting .273 with 31 home runs and 144 RBIs. The Marianna, Fla., native was originally selected by the Angels in the first round of the 2001 draft.

The injury allowed Mathis, who won his arbitration case in the offseason and was awarded a $1.3 million contract, to sit back and appreciate life.

"Sometimes as I drive to the park, I realize it's a beautiful California day," he said. "Even on the bench and I'm anxious to get back in there, it's good to be in the yard."

martyr@sltrib.com

Bees lose 7-2

R Colorado Springs pitcher Chaz Roe pitches a complete game, allowing just four hits.

• Three Sky Sox players have two RBIs, including Brad Eldred with a two-run homer.

• The Bees pull to within 3-2 in the third inning on RBI singles by Jeff Mathis and Paul McAnulty.

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