A combination of factors were involved in my decision to come to the Angels last winter. One of the biggest came to me in a conversation I had with my dad that lasted until 3 a.m. one night.

We tried to weigh my options. He told me how he signed with Atlanta when he was a free agent and that put his family in a very financially stable place, but he had to endure losing for three or four years. He said he regretted choosing money over an opportunity to win. That resonated with me.

I wanted to be in a place where I would be happy. People talk about being fairly compensated, but at the end of the day, you're getting paid a lot of money no matter what your choice. I wanted to make sure I was going to be happy where I was playing. I ended up choosing the Angels because they took care of me financially and it allowed me to be geographically closer to my family. It also gave me an opportunity to win.

I don't really watch the news as it relates to sports that much, so I didn't catch a lot of what was being reported after I signed. This move allowed me to be closer to my family and that was the big news to my family. We were all excited it was going to allow me to spend more time with them and to be home more often.

You spend so many years traveling and away from your family that sometimes you see everyone around you growing up and it makes you realize how much time you've missed. All of the money in the world can't make up for those lost opportunities to spend time with your family.

When I was making my decision, I also had a conversation with my realtor, who is also a good friend, and he asked about my favorite place to play. I'm fully aware that I'm an Angel now, but I remember telling him Dodger Stadium is one of two places that make me emotional. I have fond memories of watching my father play there and spending time in the clubhouse.

Dodger Stadium and its clubhouses have changed little since then. I walk in there and see everything as it was in the early '80s when I was watching my father play. I can pick out which locker belonged to my father. I go through a lot of emotions when I play there.

Now I'm hoping to create similar feelings and memories of winning here in Anaheim for me and my family. I want to become a better player, become involved in the community and get to know these fans and people here.

I bought a place in Corona Del Mar. I try to spend all of my down time with my family. During the winter, I work out so much during the week it's ridiculous. Monday, Wednesday and Friday -- it's three workouts a day, and Tuesday and Thursday feature two workouts a day. Really, I have only the weekends to unwind and spend time with the family.

For fun, I like to pick out a spot here and there and do a little golfing or hop on the computer. Even if my family and I are just taking a walk somewhere, it's time well spent.

Gary Matthews Jr., a five-tool player, signed a five-year free-agent contract with the Angels following an All-Star season last year with Texas. He was a regular on the sports highlight shows, either for his productive bat or defensive plays like the catch he made last July 1 in a game against Houston. A California product and the son of former big leaguer Gary Matthews, the younger Matthews was born in San Francisco but attended Granada Hills High School. He was drafted in 1993 by San Diego and made his Major League debut in 1999 with the Padres.