NEW YORK – Squid style is en vogue for the Los Angeles Angels.
When Andrew Velazquez got on the bus at Angel Stadium for the charter flight to New York, all of his teammates were dressed in the hip street mode of the 27-year-old shortstop known as “Squid."
Infielder Matt Duffy shopped ahead at Urban Outfitters for vintage-looking oversized clothes. A 6-foot-2, 190-pount stringbean, Duffy and girlfriend Rachael Crow picked out wide trousers — he had to double back his belt though a loop — a baggy shirt, corduroy handbag, cap with a smiley face and large glasses.
“Everybody's always like: Squid, what you wearing tomorrow?" Duffy said before Tuesday night's game at Yankee Stadium. “It was actually sneaky super comfy."
Angels manager Joe Maddon got into the spirit.
“I had the groovy coat that I know he woud have liked. It came out of my closet," said Maddon, who tries to be far hipper than his 68 years would indicate. “Same thing with my white, slightly patent leather desert boot from Penguin that I know could have been in his closet, too. There was a very interesting `Peace and Love' shirt underneath this wonderful shirt, and some khakis, because I know he went to Fordham Prep."
Tim Buss, in his third season as an Angels coaching assistant after coming over from the Chicago Cubs with Maddon, put up fliers in the Anaheim clubhouse calling for the sartorial tribute.
Velazquez, who wore parachute pants, gave Duffy the best-dressed award.
“Duffy killed it," Velazquez said. “Some guys went a little over the top, which I liked. Everybody participated and showed out. It was fun, and I think it was necessary, especially after that last series, kind of do something loose and go into this series fresh."
In his first season with the Angels, Velazquez was back in the Bronx for a three-game series against the Yankees. Los Angeles arrived on a five-game losing streak after getting swept in a four-game series by Toronto.
Brought up by New York last Aug. 9, he hit .224 with his first homer in four major league seasons and six RBIs in 28 games.
Velazquez was claimed off waivers by the Angels in November, started this season at Triple-A Salt Lake and was brought up April 12 and earned the shortstop job. He entered with a .202 average, two homers and 11 RBIs.
“The best shortstop in the American League," Maddon said. “Ask any pitcher on this team what they think and ask his teammates, he's that good. He really is that good, and there's a lot more in the bat than he's shown to this point. ... He's hit as many hard outs as anybody on this team this year."
On Monday's off-day, Velazquez walked around SoHo.
“I saw a kid with `Fordham Prep Baseball," he said. “I was like, that's pretty cool. A little nostalgia."
And he marveled at the Squid T-shirts on his teammates.
“It gives you a little boost of confidence," he said. “You could get it from family and friends, but from peers in the locke room, getting the respect from them is the biggest thing.”
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