Angels host RBI Youth Baseball Camp

Angels host RBI Youth Baseball Camp

ANAHEIM -- Hector Santiago got out to Angel Stadium early Saturday morning, almost 10 hours before the Angels' game against the A's, to tell the 300 kids in attendance for the Angels RBI Youth Baseball Camp not to pitch like him.

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As the participants, who ranged from ages eight to 18, rotated through seven stations across the field -- speed and agility, baserunning, pitching, hitting, catching, outfield and infield -- they got this message from Santiago: Little Leaguers aren't meant to throw the pitches a Major Leaguer throws.

"The first question I get from every group is 'How do you throw a curveball?' And I'm like, 'You should throw a fastball,'" Santiago said.

"It's nice to teach them. You tell them something, and they do it, and they notice they throw a strike. Hopefully that sticks for them. They learn early that mechanics is a big part of your game -- and it's bad to throw curveballs when you're 10 years old."

The Angels left-hander fielded plenty of questions from the young players -- as did fellow instructors Matt Shoemaker, Taylor Featherston and bench coach Dino Ebel -- from the tough to the not-so-tough. One asked Santiago how he felt about the Josh Hamilton situation; another asked Shoemaker if he was going to the game later.

Santiago said one of his groups at the pitching station didn't throw a single baseball, they just talked to him for 20 minutes about his game preparation and workout routine. Those questions are good -- the best he got all day, in fact -- because they're about learning to keep your body healthy and prevent injuries.

"The worst question I got was how to throw a curveball from a nine-year-old kid," Santiago said. "I threw my first curveball when I was 19 years old. I threw my first slider when I was 22. I think that's a reason that so far, I'm lucky, in my career I've had good health."

Saturday's clinic, led by Angels RBI League president Dave Smith, was part of the larger Angels RBI program, which aims to revive baseball in inner cities and teach life skills and character development. It provides children in underserved communities the opportunity to experience and play the game, both through a full baseball league, with a regular season and playoffs, as well as camp experiences like Saturday's.

Smith said he expected to raise about $40,000 for the Angels RBI program from the Youth Baseball Camp event.

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.