Alexi Amarista struggles for words, not hits

Alexi Amarista watches his two-run double against the A's in his major-league debut Tuesday. AP Photo/Chris Carlson

ANAHEIM -- You could barely hear his answer.

Alexi Amarista was asked if he thought about his dad after getting his first major-league start and picking up his first major-league hit -- a big one in the Angels' 8-3 win over the Oakland A's on Tuesday night. Amarista's father was murdered last November in a home-invasion robbery in his hometown in Venezuela.

"Of course, I was thinking about my dad a lot," Amarista said. "Then, when I got my first hit in the big leagues, I want to dedicate it to my dad and all my family."

It appears the senior Amarista, also named Alexi and the manager of a professional softball team, prepared his son well for the rigors of baseball at the highest level. The Angels' second baseman isn't blessed with a major-league body -- he admitted he's only 5 feet 7, an inch smaller than he's listed in the media guide and he's slightly built -- but he makes up for it with skill and fierce determination.

Amarista batted .400 in 15 games at Triple-A last year. He was batting .455 for the first few weeks this year.

"That dude can hit, just flat-out hit," said Angels pitcher Tyler Chatwood, a minor-league teammate. "He's a great baseball player, one of the best I've had the pleasure to play with in the minor leagues."

Chatwood, Amarista, Hank Conger, Peter Bourjos and Jordan Walden -- each of whom spent the bulk of 2010 in the minor leagues -- were among the key cogs Tuesday, and many of them have been all season long.

It seems that no matter how young the Angels go, it seems to work out this season. They already plucked Chatwood, 21, from the minors and he has given them four functional starts. They tapped Amarista, 22, and he wakes the offense from a lengthy slumber with a clutch two-run double in the second inning.

"There are always going to be learning curves with young guys," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The one thing we're seeing is some talented players who are coming up here and contributing."