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A's leave Anaheim with heavy hearts

A's leave Anaheim with heavy hearts

ANAHEIM -- On the day of a night game, the A's clubhouse typically comes to life at about 2:30 p.m.

There was nothing typical about Thursday. The A's left their clubhouse at 2:30 p.m., the tragically shortened life of Angels rookie Nick Adenhart weighing heavily on their hearts.

Adenhart, a 22-year-old right-hander who threw six shutout innings against Oakland on Wednesday night, died early Thursday morning as the result of injuries sustained in a three-car, hit-and-run accident that occurred just hours after Wednesday's game.

Thursday's game was postponed, so the A's went to Angel Stadium to pack their things before flying back to the Bay Area. Oakland will host the Mariners on Friday in its 2009 home opener.

"The kid threw the game of his career last night; he just got a chance to touch his dream a little bit, and he was gonna have a bright future," said A's veteran Jason Giambi. "I'm shocked. This morning, I got a bunch of messages about what happened. It just shows you how precious life is."

A handful of A's players were friendly with Adenhart, including Thursday's scheduled starter, Brett Anderson, who knew Adenhart through USA Baseball. Several A's played in the Minor Leagues against Adenhart, but nobody on the team was as close to Adenhart as was catcher Kurt Suzuki.

A teammate said Suzuki, who played with Adenhart for the U.S. Olympic Qualifying Team at a 2006 tournament in Cuba, was "absolutely crushed" by the news of his friend's death. An A's spokesman said Suzuki did not want to speak with the media on Thursday.

"We had a few guys who knew Nick, but I don't want to say exactly who they are," A's manager Bob Geren said. "I talked to them a little bit, and they'll talk to [the media] about it when they're ready.

"It's hard to sort out right now."

Thursday marked the third time in recent years that the A's have been touched by a death in the baseball family. Former Oakland pitcher Cory Lidle died in a plane crash after the 2006, and another former A's pitcher, Joe Kennedy, died of heart disease after collapsing in the home of his in-laws in November 2007.

Giambi was extremely good friends with Lidle; they met in high school and were Yankees teammates when Lidle died.

"This was just as shocking," Giambi said of Adenhart. "You wake up the next day and somebody's gone."

The A's, who kept their clubhouse closed before departing Angel Stadium, issued a statement from team president Mike Crowley.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of Nick Adenhart and others involved in this morning's accident," Crowley said. "Our hearts and prayers go out to their families, as well as the entire Los Angeles Angels organization. As he demonstrated only last night, Nick was a very gifted pitcher with a promising future.

"For that future to be cut short is not only a loss for the Angels but for all of Major League Baseball."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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