Former Halos Erstad, Percival reunite as rivals

Ex-teammates now coaches of Division I programs

Former Halos Erstad, Percival reunite as rivals

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Former Angels Darin Erstad and Troy Percival reunited on the field Friday not as teammates, but as rivals.

Erstad's Nebraska Cornhuskers and Percival's UC Riverside Highlanders began a four-game series of Division I baseball at Tempe Diablo Stadium, with Riverside winning the opener, 4-3.

Erstad, an outfielder and first baseman, and right-handed reliever Percival played together in Anaheim from 1996 to 2004 and were key members of the 2002 World Series champion Angels.

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Manager Mike Scioscia said he wasn't surprised to see his two former players move into the coaching ranks.

"They always peeled the layers off of this game in their game prep and worked very hard to understand how they could improve," Scioscia said. "You never know what player is going to be drawn to coaching, but those two, there's no doubt. You could see they loved the game. They gravitated toward it."

Erstad is in his sixth season at the helm of Nebraska, while Percival has coached UC Riverside for three seasons.

The Cornhuskers and Highlanders will continue their four-game series Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. First pitch is at noon MST. Admission is free.

• While Cactus League play is slated to begin Feb. 25, Scioscia said the Angels will hold off on immediately using the pitchers who are in serious contention to make the Major League club. The Angels will play five additional Spring Training games this year because of the World Baseball Classic, so Scioscia wants to avoid getting those pitchers ready too early.

The Angels still have not decided who will start their Cactus League opener against the Brewers at Tempe Diablo Stadium. "We're going through it now," Scioscia said. "We're going to see how guys come out of their bullpens."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.