Three landmark moments from the Angels' off-season: On Jan. 14 prized free agent Vladimir Guerrero signs with the team; on Dec. 10 they acquire ace righthander Bartolo Colon; and in late December third baseman Troy Glaus undergoes successful laser eye surgery. "I'd researched the possibility of it for years," says Glaus, who had worn glasses and contacts since childhood, but until recently thought that laser surgery was too risky. "This winter my doctor called and told me the technology was [improved]. I had it done, and by eight o'clock the next morning I could see [clearly]."
With his new 20/15 vision, Glaus is also seeing the baseball better than ever and is off to a scorching start. Coming off the worst season of his five-year career (he hit .248 with 16 homers in 91 games), the three-time All-Star third baseman and MVP of the 2002 World Series belted three moon-shot home runs—measuring 414, 421 and 410 feet—in Anaheim's first four games. With Glaus, who through Sunday was batting .391 with an .870 slugging percentage, powering the charge, the Angels' lineup was living up to its preseason billing: In the season-opening, three-game sweep of the Mariners, Anaheim scored 25 runs on 37 hits.
While the Angels' off-season acquisitions were significant (they also added free-agent leftfielder Jose Guillen and righthander Kelvim Escobar), a return to form by Glaus, who hit 47 home runs in 2000 and 41 in '01, is what ultimately could put Anaheim back into the playoffs.
Glaus estimates that he went through 20 types of contacts during the 2002 season, and he missed games at various times because of problems with his eyesight. "Now I can see the same way every day, and that's the key," says Glaus.
But last season's struggle went beyond his eyesight. Last July he fell awkwardly on the turf at Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field and suffered a partially torn rotator cuff that ended his season. Glaus decided against surgery, and rehabilitated his shoulder with rest, physical therapy and a new weight training program.
The 27-year-old Carlsbad, Calif., native who is in the final year of a four-year contract that will pay him $9-9 million in 2004, is eligible for free agency next fall. With All-Star centerfielder Garret Anderson scheduled to become a free agent in the off-season and highly touted third base prospect Dallas McPherson waiting in the minors, Glaus needs a healthy and productive season to command a deal similar to that signed by Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez last month: a six-year, $66 million contract to remain with the A's. But if Glaus continues on his current pace, it won't be much longer before the Angels will have seen enough.