04/11/11 9:12 PM ET
Rodriguez high on Chatwood
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
"I think he's going to be fine," said Rodriguez, the right-handed reliever who was with Chatwood with Triple-A Salt Lake when they were summoned to join a redesigned Angels pitching staff. "He can do some things. He can throw hard, and he's got a good breaking ball. He's aggressive with his fastball."
Rodriguez could give Chatwood some insights into controlling anxiety. He put away Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira, the first three big league hitters he faced, last season at Yankee Stadium on his way to 8 1/3 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts.
"I remember the first time I saw Tyler two years ago when I was sent down to the Minor League camp," Rodriguez said. "I watched him pitch, and the first thing that came into my mind was, `There's a little Roy Oswalt there.' Same kind of pitcher, same kind of stuff."
A shortstop primarily his senior year who also was a prospect as a center fielder, Chatwood didn't abuse his arm in high school with too much work. Because of his stature -- he's 6-foot, 185 pounds -- he has drawn comparisons to Oswalt and Jake Peavy.
"When I came up, I was compared to Oswalt," Chatwood said. "I watched him; he's nasty. I've pretty much got my own style and delivery. I'm trying to refine some things, work on what I took from last year."
Scioscia goes with freshly charged battery
ANAHEIM -- For Tyler Chatwood's Major League debut as an Angels starting pitcher on Monday night against the Indians, manager Mike Scioscia elected to go young behind the plate as well as on the mound.
In the equivalent of a Futures Game battery, Chatwood was hooked up with Hank Conger, making his 12th big league start. Chatwood, the team's top pick in the second round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, is 21; Conger, the first-round pick (25th overall) in 2006, is 23.
Both are as local as it gets. Chatwood came to the pros out of Redlands East Valley High School an hour east of Angel Stadium, while Conger hailed from Huntington Beach High School, about 20 freeway minutes away.
At 21 years and 116 days, Chatwood can become the youngest American League pitcher since 2000 to win his MLB debut. Scott Kazmir was 20 years and 212 days when he celebrated a win in his 2004 debut for Tampa Bay at Seattle. Joel Pineiro, on the disabled list with Kazmir, was 21, 318 days when he won his debut, fourth youngest.
Chatwood will lean on Conger, a catcher he's worked with before. While he doesn't have a lot of experience, Conger has made the most of his chances. In 98 Major League innings, his pitchers have fashioned a 2.11 ERA -- 3.00 in 18 innings this year, 1.91 last season.
"There's a talent level on the field," Scioscia said. "Sometimes it's young guys who are very talented. Hank already has done a good job with anybody [he's caught].
"Tyler is a makeup guy. He's not going to be beaten because of any intimidation or [being] a kid who's trying too hard. His talent's real. His opportunity might have come a little earlier in his career than he expected, but we feel he's ready for the challenge."
Chatwood had an impressive spring in Cactus League play, showing the ability to pound the strike zone with his mid-90s heater that touches 98 and a big breaking ball. His ERA in 11 innings (one start against the Royals) was an unimpressive 7.36, but one inning of ill winds in the desert can inflate an ERA. More indicative of Chatwood's stuff was his nine strikeouts against three walks.
"I think that's huge," Scioscia said. "I think his growth from when he came in to when he left [camp] is very real."
The Angels' organizational Pitcher of the Year in 2010, Chatwood was 13-7 overall with a 3.15 ERA in 26 starts covering 155 1/3 innings, striking out 109 while walking 63. He pitched at three levels, finishing at Triple-A Salt Lake, where he opened this season.
Weaver recalls debut
ANAHEIM -- Less than 24 hours after delivering a career-high 15 strikeouts and moving to 3-0, 0.87 ERA in another Cy Young Award-caliber outing against the Jays, Jered Weaver was reflecting on his Major League debut in 2006 with young Tyler Chatwood about to make his against the Indians.
It was Saturday, May 27, and the Orioles visited Angel Stadium. Weaver, whose brother, Jeff, was his teammate, was pitching in front of his parents and about 40 others on his lengthy pass list, along with untold other visitors from his Simi Valley, Calif., home.
"I don't think I've ever been that nervous," Weaver said on Monday. "It was so nerve-wracking, I still get a little nervous just thinking about it.
"It seems like it was yesterday. I got through the first [1-2-3] and then it really set in, where I was when I was backing up home and Vladdy [Guerrero] made a throw."
Runners were at second and third with none out when Jeff Conine lifted a fly ball. Guerrero cut loose, and Javy Lopez was gunned down at the plate. Weaver struck out Corey Patterson to end the threat, and that was the closest Baltimore came to a run in seven superb innings. Weaver gave up three hits and one walk, striking out five, and he was on his way to wins in his first seven decisions.
"I talked to him a little bit," Weaver said, referring to Chatwood. "I'll be interested to see how it goes down. He's from around here [Redlands, an hour due east], so I'm sure he'll have a bunch of people here. He's got good stuff. He just needs to go out and pitch."
And somehow control the nerves.
Downs joins bullpen
ANAHEIM -- With the demotions of Kevin Jepsen and Michael Kohn, apparently dispatched to Triple-A Salt Lake to tighten up their command, the Angels have added veteran left-hander Scott Downs to the group, activating him from the disabled list.
Downs, who fractured his left big toe playing with his children during Spring Training, made two rehab appearances for advanced Class A Inland Empire, giving up two runs. He was one of the most effective setup artists in the game in Toronto for six seasons before signing a three-year deal with the Angels in December.
"Scott's going to get his feet on the ground at some point," manager Mike Scioscia said, indicating Downs likely will work in low-impact situations early on. "Eventually, he'll pitch in the later innings."
Fernando Rodney is the eighth-inning man now with Jordan Walden the closer. Downs figures to share the eighth with Rodney before long, with fellow left-hander Hisanori Takahashi also available.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.