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.