07/25/10 9:58 PM ET
Haren excited to come home to help Halos
Born in nearby Monterey Park, righty returning to roots
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Born in Monterey Park -- a relatively easy drive from Angel Stadium if such a thing exists in Southern California -- Haren is joining the Angels as they try to stay alive in the American League West, a division they have claimed three consecutive seasons and five of the past six.
Acquired on Sunday from the D-backs in exchange for pitchers Joe Saunders, Rafael Rodriguez, Patrick Corbin and a player to be named, Haren grasped the meaning of returning to his roots -- and, hopefully, to a contender.
"I was born and raised 20 minutes from there, and I still have a lot of family there," Haren said. "This point in my career, being on the West Coast has a lot of value for me.
"Being able to be near family and going to a ballclub that is dedicated to winning -- for not just this year but a lot of years -- I am very excited for the chance to go there and win."
Since the Rangers landed Cliff Lee in a deal with the Mariners on July 9, Haren has been the biggest chip in the trade market. The Angels moved decisively on the 29-year-old right-hander with a handful of other clubs reportedly making bids, including the Yankees and Phillies.
Drafted in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft by St. Louis in 2001, Haren is a Southern California product all the way. He attended Bishop Amat High School in La Puente and Pepperdine University before embarking on his professional career.
"It's been really exhausting," Haren said. "It's kind of worn on me. A lot of things [have been] running through my mind the last couple of days. A couple of days ago I thought I was going to New York and then Philly. Then it turns out to be Anaheim.
"I'm definitely glad it's over and get some closure, moving onto the next chapter of my life. Playing these games is going to be real meaningful."
Haren, who emerged as a star in Oakland from 2005 through 2007, started the '07 All-Star Game in San Francisco and was dealt to Arizona that winter.
Durable and productive, he hasn't missed a start since breaking full time into the Athletics' rotation in '05, going 14-12. He logged between 216 and 229 1/3 innings the past five seasons and is on his way to the 200-mark again with 141 in 21 starts, striking out 141 hitters while walking only 29.
His 7-8 record and 4.60 ERA could be deceiving given the D-backs' 37-62 record, second worst in the National League.
"A lot of good and bad [in Arizona]," he said, summing up his two-plus seasons with the D-backs. "To start the year, to think I would be sitting here being traded, I would have never thought.
"I had high expectations for myself and the team this year, and it didn't really work out that way. I'm kind of sad it didn't lead to what I was brought here for, which was to bring the team to the next level. I was brought here to put [the D-backs] over the top. It didn't happen that way.
"Coming to the field hasn't been as exciting as it was. It's been a tough couple of years. I've played for three managers since I've been here. It hasn't been the greatest baseball experience I have had, and I wish it was.
"I didn't think I would be traded two weeks ago, and here I am today. That's baseball. That's life."
Justin Upton, the young Arizona star, feels Haren lived up to his end of the deal in Arizona.
"Danny did a great job while he was here," Upton said. "I'm excited for him. He's going to back home to L.A. and [be] pitching in a pennant race.
"For us, moving forward, he was our best piece to try to make our team better, and it's unfortunate that we have gotten to this point and Haren has to go. But we're building for the future."
The D-backs loaded up on pitching in discarding their best, a high price the Angels were willing to pay for a man not unfamiliar with postseason pressures.
In seven postseason games, five with the Cardinals in 2004 and two with the Athletics in 2006, Haren is 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA. He was a reliever for the Cards, who shipped him to Oakland for Mark Mulder along with Daric Barton and Kiko Calero.
Now Haren is back in the AL West, close to home -- and joining a rotation that includes another ace in Jered Weaver and three other proven starters in Ervin Santana, Joel Pineiro and Scott Kazmir.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.