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Tragic news: Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart killed in hit-and-run

Big League Stew

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Terrible news out of California this morning, where we've just learned that the Angels rookie Nick Adenhart was killed in an early morning hit-and-run accident in Fullerton on Thursday.

The news was first reported by TMZ and later confirmed by Yahoo! Sports baseball columnist Tim Brown.

Just 22 years old, Adenhart started for Los Angeles on Wednesday night and struck out five batters over six scoreless innings in a 6-4 loss to Oakland. It was only the fourth start of his young career and first since earning the third spot in the Angels' rotation over spring training.

According to reports, Adenhart was driving home with three others in his silver Mitsubishi when a mini-van ran through a red light and hit Adenhart's car, causing it to crash into a light pole. A female driver and male passenger died on the scene while Adenhart was taken to the hospital where he died undergoing surgery, according to a spokesman from the UC-Irvine Medical Center. The driver of the mini-van fled the scene, but was later apprehended by police. No other members of the Angels' organization were involved.

This is the most tragic news you can imagine in the baseball world and our thoughts go out to Adenhart's family and the entire Angels' organization, which was already reeling from the death of a fan who was involved in a fight on Opening Day.

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UPDATES: Tonight's game against Oakland has been postponed.

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• According to the Los Angeles Times, the driver has a prior DUI conviction:

"Police arrested Andrew Thomas Gallo, 22, of Riverside, who will be charged with felony driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter, said Lt. Kevin Hamilton of the Fullerton Police Department, who appeared at a news conference this morning at Angels Stadium. Gallo has a prior DUI conviction and his driver's license had been suspended, Hamilton said."

• The team has also just released a statement from Adenhart's parents, Jim and Janet.

"Nick's family expresses sincere gratitude for all the help the Angels have provided. He lived his dream and was blessed to be part of an organization comprised of such warm, caring, and compassionate people. The Angels were his extended family. Thanks to all of Nick's loyal supporters and fans throughout his career. He will always be in everyone's hearts forever."

• Angels GM Tony Reagins issued the following statement on behalf of the club:

"The Angels family has suffered a tremendous loss today. We are deeply saddened and shocked by this tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nick's family, friends' loved ones and fans."

• Adenhart's agent, Scott Boras, became very emotional at the press conference.

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• According to a Yahoo! Sports' source, the lone survivor from Adenhart's car is Jon Wilhite, who played at Cal State-Fullerton last season. He remains in intensive care.

• The female driver was Courtney Stewart, who was also a popular student at CSF.

• Adenhart was a member of the 2006 Olympic Qualifying Team that traveled to Cuba and qualified the United States for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Said Davey Johnson, who managed Adenhart at that level:

"One of the highlights of managing for USA Baseball is the opportunity to work with bright, young players who are eager to learn the game. Nick embodied all of those attributes. He was a joy to manage in Cuba and was a key contributor to our success there. This is such a tragedy — his career was just getting started."

Here's a picture of Adenhart (left) with USA teammates Brandon Wood (also an Angels teammate) and Mark Reynolds of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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• Here's a picture (via Beto Duran's Twitter feed) of the dais before the press conference.

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• MLB.com has compiled a few of the reactions from around the league, including this one from Yankees manager Joe Girardi:

"It's sad. It really is. You think of a young man who realizes his dream and pitches six shutout innings, and drives home and is gone. Life is not supposed to be like that. I didn't even know the kid and it's hard for me. He's just a little boy who dreamed about playing in the big leagues. It's one big fraternity, one big family. Your heart goes out to that family and that young man. You realize how precious life is. You wake up every day and be thankful for what you've got, because you never know."

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• Halos Heaven has a poignant take on the questions we'll forever ask about Adenhart.

"We are just left wondering ... minds wandering and wondering forever. I don't know who will win the 2010, ‘11 and ‘12 American League Cy Young awards, but for the rest of my life I will always have a nagging feeling that they would have belonged to Nick Adenhart."

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