When the Los Angeles Angels signed veteran left-handed hitting designated hitter Raul Ibanez everyone wondered what they were thinking. Not that he didn’t have a solid season in 2013 hitting 29 home runs in 454 at-bats, but the guy is going to be 42-years old in June. He only hit five of those 29 home runs in the second half of the season with a .203 batting average.
But his bat was only a part of what Ibanez brings to the club. The main reason for signing the aging slugger was for his presence in the clubhouse. The veteran leadership that Ibanez brings to the locker room each and everyday is worth every penny of that $2.75 million, one-year contract that he signed this offseason.
Ibanez hasn’t done a whole lot thus far in the first week of Spring Training. But in today’s Cactus League game, Ibanez hit a towering home run off of Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish. Yes, it is only a preseason game but the veteran Ibanez, knowing that the Rangers are a nemesis of the Angels, showed his new teammates that he is ready to battle the mighty Rangers. Ibanez was 2-for-3 today with the home run, giving him three runs scored and 3 RBIs in the 3 games that he has played this spring.
If the Angels can get one more solid season out of Ibanez, it will be a bonus on top of the veteran presence that he will bring alongside future Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols, former MVP Josh Hamilton and former World Series MVP David Freese. If not, then his leadership alone will earn his paycheck.