The Los Angeles Angels made several additions to their bullpen during the offseason, including former Colorado Rockies right-hander Carlos Estévez, who was signed to a two-year contract.
Estévez is coming off a breakout year that saw him hold opposing batters to a career-best .211 batting average. He also posted a 2.03 ERA from early July through the end of the regular season, which placed him in the top 10 among National League relievers.
Estévez hopes to build on that success with the Angels but hit a snag in Spring Training as he allowed nine runs in 7.2 innings of work. The 30-year-old typically struggles in exhibition games, however, and wasn’t concerned about the results.
Estévez has responded by putting up zeros in his first two regular season appearances and believes he feels more like himself, per Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group:
“It’s a lot better,” Estévez said. “I’m more locked in. … Now it counts. Now I’m going for it. I was going through the motions sometimes in spring training.”
Estévez attributed some of his early struggles to not throwing as hard due to the cold weather:
“Early in the year I don’t throw as hard,” he said. “I’m not really good friends with the cold weather.”
Estévez also credited the Angels pitching coaches for helping him make an adjustment with his slider that has led to better results:
He said he and the pitching coaches had a “long conversation” on Tuesday about an adjustment with his slider.
“I feel really good about it,” he said. “We made some changes playing catch. It feels really good.”
That Estévez has bounced back from his rough spring is an encouraging development for the Angels, who expect him to be a major part of their bullpen this season.
Carlos Estévez will have opportunity to close games for Angels
Both of Estévez’s appearances thus far have come in the ninth inning, which is what the Angels envisioned when they signed him. “Carlos is going to get a chance to pitch at the end of the game,” manager Phil Nevin said during the offseason.
“I know you guys saw how we ran the bullpen last year. If he emerges as a guy that can finish games like that, I think there’s things in his arsenal that we’ll be able to add and help him with.”
“I know the big story is, well, he pitched in Colorado. To me that’s a lot. After managing in Reno for three years, you have that mentality, talking to Buddy Black, he wanted the ball all the time. Nothing ever phased him out there.”
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