Angels pitcher Nick Maronde counts Scott Downs as a mentor — and a neighbor to his parents. (Associated Press)
When Nick Maronde took Scott Downs‘ spot on the Angels’ roster Monday, there was a neighborly vibe to the transaction. Not just because the two left-handed pitchers had lockers tucked into the same corner of the Angels’ clubhouse the last two seasons; Downs lives about five minutes away from Maronde’s parents in Lexington, Kentucky.
Maronde, 24, said the 37-year-old Downs was a mentor to him, sometimes in the off-season as well.
When he learned that Downs had been traded Monday, Maronde said, “I texted him and thanked him for all he’s done for me. I want to keep in touch. He’s a wealth of knowledge.”
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.”
Left-hander Sean Burnett wasn’t available to pitch Monday, and won’t be until Thursday at the earliest, after experiencing stiffness in his left forearm following a one-inning appearance Sunday.
“I’ve been dealing with it off and on the last two weeks,” Burnett said. “I’m just playing it safe.”
In part because of Burnett’s injury, in part because long reliever Jerome Williams is expected to start Wednesday, the Angels recalled left-hander Nick Maronde from Double-A Arkansas on Tuesday. Infielder Tommy Field was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Maronde on the 25-man roster.
That leaves the Angels with nine relievers and only three position players available off the bench for tonight’s game against the Texas Rangers.
Burnett had surgery to remove bone spurs in his left elbow last October. He said that the tightness in his forearm is part of the recovery process. He’s also made a team-leading 10 appearances in the Angels’ first 18 games, which puts him on pace to pitch in 90 games this season. He doesn’t expect to keep that pace up, but he isn’t complaining either.
“The workload’s been fine,” Burnett said. “It’s more frustrating than anything. When I get out there I feel good.”
Maronde appeared in six games with Arkansas, allowing five runs in 7 ⅓ innings (a 6.14 ERA). Field appeared in three games as a defensive replacement without getting a plate appearance.
In what amounted to a spring training bloodbath, the Angels cut nine players from their major-league camp roster Sunday.
Among the notable names sent out, Chad Cordero was reassigned to the Angels’ minor-league camp and right-hander Brad Mills was claimed off of outright waivers by the Texas Rangers.
You’d never guess it, but pitcher Mitch Stetter was among the first players to report to spring training with the Angels.
It wasn’t hard. Stetter lives about 10 minutes north of Tempe. He dropped by early in February, threw about 10 bullpen sessions and hurt his lower back in the 11th. After an initial diagnosis of a stress fracture in his vertebrae, Stetter had a CT scan that revealed a bulging disk.
He’s yet to appear in a spring training game while adhering to a prescription of rest and anti-inflammatory medications. But after throwing a bullpen today, “most likely I’ll take two days off then pitch Sunday,” Stetter said.
The Angels cleared a spot on their 40-man roster by outrighting right-handed reliever Bobby Cassevah on Thursday. Cassevah has 72 hours to either accept his assignment to the minor-league side or become a free agent.
Cassevah appeared in one game this spring, allowing a single and walking two batters but escaping the jam Sunday against the Oakland A’s.
The assignment comes as Cassevah was hoping to move past a disappointing 2012 season. He hurt his shoulder in spring training and pitched in just four major-league games all year, walking six and surrendering four runs in five innings (7.20 ERA). At Triple-A Salt Lake, Cassevah went 4-1 with a 6.22 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, recording 10 saves in 12 opportunities.
The Angels could use Cassevah’s roster spot to acquire a player via trade or free agency, though it’s too soon to say if the Angels want to go that route. It’s also good news for 40-man roster pitchers Nick Maronde, Brandon Sisk, David Carpenter, Steven Geltz and Michael Kohn, whose chances of starting the season in the majors temporarily improve.
In today’s notebook, I mused about the possible pitchers for the Angels this weekend, since Mike Scioscia is holding his projected starting rotation out of games until March.
Today the manager revealed his starters for Saturday’s split-squad games. Jerome Williams will start at Tempe Diablo Stadium against the Chicago Cubs, while Brad Mills will start against the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale.
Barry Enright (Sunday vs. Oakland), Garrett Richards (Monday at Seattle in Peoria), A.J. Schugel (Tuesday vs. Arizona in Tempe) and Nick Maronde (vs. San Francisco in Tempe) will start the following games.
Some links to get you through the weekend: