Minutes before stepping into the batter's box at Angel Stadium, Derek Grant jokingly says a few games of slow pitch softball this summer prepared him for this moment. Decked out in Angels gear, Grant waited in the on-deck circle, his eyes fixated on Rickard Rakell's rather unorthodox approach at the plate.
"It's...getting better," Grant says, analyzing Rakell's whirling swing. "Ricky's timing was a little off. He has pretty good hands on the ice, so I thought he'd be good out here, but I think I just saw him do a pirouette. [Laughs]. He's had a few good cracks. He's definitely getting better."
Now it's Grant's turn, and the 6-foot-3, 215-pound center gets into his stance. He opts for a few bunt attempts to warm up. Soon enough, Grant's loading up, crushing balls into the outfield before he really connects on one. The ball soars to deep right field and clears the wall. His teammates there - Rakell, Nicolas Deslauriers, Hampus Lindholm and Devin Shore - let out a roar.
After finishing his session, Grant reveals a little secret. "I played growing up," he says with a smile.
The guys were there for Ducks Night at Angel Stadium - an annual event that features appearances from Ducks players, Wild Wing and the Ducks Street Team, as well as themed in-game entertainment and exclusive co-branded merchandise at the Angel Stadium Team Store. A unique Mike Trout/Ducks bobblehead, featuring Trout's head (with a missing tooth) on top of a Duck player's body is the free giveaway to the first 30,000 fans.
This isn't the first time Grant's been to Angel Stadium, but being on the field brings a whole new perspective. He made sure to record a few videos on his phone to document it.
"It's cool." Grant says. "I've been here a few times before, watching from up above in the stands, to be down here and see these guys is warming up is pretty cool."