Semi-demoted Angels closer Ernesto Frieri: ‘I’m gonna die standing up like a warrior.’

Ernesto Frieri

Ernesto Frieri is 0-3 with a 4.20 earned-run average this season. (Getty Images)

Ernesto Frieri was brimming with strong emotions Thursday.

The Angels’ closer was sitting at his locker for the first time since blowing saves on consecutive nights Monday and Tuesday in Texas, a series of events that clearly hit the 28-year-old pitcher hard.

On Monday he allowed a pair of solo home runs in the ninth inning, turning a 3-2 Angels lead into a 4-3 loss. On Tuesday he allowed a walk, stolen base and RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning with the Angels ahead 11-10. Frieri was pulled from that game, which the Angels lost 14-11 in the 10th inning.

Frieri never got a chance to atone for his mistakes on Wednesday. Michael Kohn pitched the ninth inning and served up the game-winning home run in a 1-1 game — the Angels’ third consecutive walk-off loss.

“Just keep fighting,” said Frieri, whose earned-run average rose to 4.20 in Texas. “It’s gonna pass sooner or later.”
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Ernesto Frieri on Mariano Rivera: ‘I can’t compare to that guy.’

Ernesto FrieriErnesto Frieri, who turned 28 Friday, has 45 saves and 278 strikeouts since he made his pro debut with the San Diego Padres in 2009.

That’s 874 fewer strikeouts and 593 less saves than this year’s All-Star game MVP, Mariano Rivera.

Rivera pitched the eighth inning of Tuesday’s All-Star game, retiring the first three batters he faced. Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan pitched the ninth inning to earn the save.
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Daily Distractions: Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols juxtaposed; rekindling Mike Trout vs. Miguel Cabrera.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols’ running can be painful to watch; lately his batting average has been suffering too. (Associated Press photo)

A visiting beat writer at Sunday’s game watched one of Albert Pujols‘ three strikeouts and marveled at what he saw. The swing-and-miss at strike three, down and away, simply wasn’t the same Pujols. In fact, it looked a little like Josh Hamilton did earlier this month.

Hamilton seems to be coming around, as I wrote in my game story yesterday. Pujols, who is batting .198 since April 21, does not.

Writes Joe Posnanski: “After years of being the best player in baseball, Pujols is now sort of beside the point.”

Mike Scioscia said something interesting after the game. I asked him if the Angels’ patience at the plate (they walked twice with the bases loaded and Hamilton averaged five pitches per at-bat) was evidence of a team that isn’t pressing as much, something Scioscia reprimanded his team for a couple nights earlier. His answer:

“I think we’re seeing some guys maybe use the whole field. As you try to get simpler, get more comfortable in the game, the things you talk about show up — you see the guys get in deeper counts, get a pitch, take a walk, hit the ball the other way, get better pitches to hit. Those things start to go in a positive direction. Hopefully he’ll keep taking strides toward it.”

Wait, who’s “he”?

I didn’t ask that because I didn’t catch Scioscia’s choice of pronouns until I listened to my tape after the game. But it isn’t hard to figure out — it’s Hamilton, who was hitting line drives to the opposite field, taking a walk, and going deeper into counts as if he was Mike Trout. Pujols was not.

For Pujols’ legacy, sure, we’re witnessing a turning point. As a key to the Angels’ success, it remains to be seen how long they can survive Pujols’ slump.

Some bullet points for a Monday morning:

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Daily Distractions: Ernesto Frieri’s tweet heard ’round the world.

It had 137 retweets and 57 favorites as of this writing. It was painful, accurate and popular. It was not the first instance of an Angels player speaking from the heart, but it was presented without filter, which is often the best way to present your thoughts:

You’ve got to hand it to Ernesto Frieri. He got our attention. On a day when the Angels hit three home runs, C.J. Wilson struck out 12 batters in 6 ⅓ innings, and the bullpen (which consisted entirely of Mark Lowe on Tuesday), the mood was still the same after a 7-6 loss to the Houston Astros. Frieri took time to write back several tweeters with a more uplifting tone. Even this guy:

Onto some bullet points:
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

What will the Angels’ bullpen look like April 1?

David Carpenter

David Carpenter could be on the bubble for one of the Angels’ final bullpen jobs … or not. (Getty Images)

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said his pitching staff “will have a more situational look in the bullpen” when the regular season begins. It’s not hard to figure out what that means, as there are 15 pitchers currently in camp and 12 will start the season on the active roster.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Daily Distractions: Angels’ bullpen injury watch becomes a full-time thing.

Ryan Madson was seen throwing off flat ground today in Tempe, but manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that the Angels’ presumptive closer still has no timetable to get back on a mound.

That’s essentially the status quo. Madson was dealing with soreness and inflammation in his right elbow last week. An MRI came back negative but his throwing program was put on hold. Opening day looked like a longshot for Madson then and still does now.

The 32-year-old missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery.

At least the Angels don’t have to rebuild their bullpen from scratch. They can just go back to what (sometimes) worked for them last year — Ernesto Frieri in the ninth, Kevin Jepsen in the eighth, Scott Downs in the seventh — plus free-agent newcomer Sean Burnett.

Oh, about Burnett: He left camp today with stiffness in his lower back to undergo an MRI.

Stay tuned. The Angels’ bullpen is officially on watch.

Things are heating up in Arizona, literally and figuratively. These links are tepid at best:

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

Angels’ Ryan Madson in good spirits after MRI comes back negative.

Ryan Madson

An MRI Tuesday on Ryan Madson’s right elbow came back negative, but the man the Angels hoped to be their opening-day closer won’t be their closer on opening day.

That’s the way it appears for now, at least. Madson, who missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, is still dealing with soreness in the elbow. Opening day is April 1 in Cincinnati and there’s no target date for Madson’s return.

In a way, he sees that as a relief.

“Now, yes, especially because that’s what I was going towards,” he said. “Maybe it got me into a little bit of trouble. Now I don’t have a set date in mind. I want to let my arm guide me. The trainers are good in there, already did a lot of good work this morning. It feels good.”

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email