05/05/12 2:39 AM ET
Frieri brings lively arm to Angels' bullpen
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
"Then when I was like 14, I started playing baseball," Frieri said, "and when I first picked up the baseball and threw it I was like, 'Wow, I have a good arm.'"
And he's never really had any arm troubles.
"My shoulder's always fine," Frieri, now 26, said. "I get sore like everybody else, but that's about it."
Frieri's right arm helped him put together some pretty impressive lines while pitching in mostly low-leverage situations in some pretty stacked Padres bullpens, posting a 2.33 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 105 appearances through parts of four years.
Now the Angels, who acquired him Thursday for Minor League infielder Alexi Amarista and right-hander Donn Roach, are hoping he can help their beleaguered relief corps.
"I'm just here to pitch," said Frieri, whose addition to the roster meant Kevin Jepsen was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake. "To throw the ball and attack the strike zone, get people out and try to help them win some games."
The Angels are still trying to get a feel for Frieri -- who sports a lively fastball, a deceptive delivery and a sharp-breaking slider -- but manager Mike Scioscia said Friday he'll pitch "later in the game as opposed to the middle," adding: "All reports point to a guy who really will fit into our bullpen and be able to be a part of the component that's going to hold leads for us."
Signed in 2003 out of Cartagena, Colombia -- the same city where former Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera grew up -- Frieri is under club control for five years and shares two traits with Angels ace Jered Weaver: He throws across his body and gives up a lot of fly balls, to which Angel Stadium tends to be forgiving.
"Whenever I give up a ground ball," Frieri said, "I'm like, 'Really, wow.'"
Frieri can also be a bit wild. He averaged 4.9 walks per nine innings and hit nine batters in 63 innings during his first full season last year -- which saw him finish with a 2.71 ERA -- but he believes he has taken steps to improve that this year, as he's walked just four batters, struck out 18 and put up a 2.31 ERA in 11 2/3 innings.
Frieri was initially crushed about the deal, considering he had been in the Padres' organization for eight years.
"But two hours later," Frieri said, "I was like, 'Wow, that's a really good team, so yeah, why not?'"
Jepsen sent down to iron out command issues
ANAHEIM -- Kevin Jepsen has regained the velocity needed to be an effective back-end bullpen piece.
He just hasn't been productive enough.
And so, on Friday, the Angels optioned Jepsen to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for new reliever Ernesto Frieri, who was acquired from the Padres Thursday for Minor League utility man Alexi Amarista and right-hander Donn Roach.
"He needs to get on the mound and get hitters out," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Jepsen. "And hopefully he's going to get his game together to where he can be part of our bullpen in the near future because we need an arm like that, no doubt."
Jepsen, fully recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery, was back throwing his fastball in the mid to high 90s -- like he did while posting a 3.97 ERA in 68 games in 2010 -- but had given up eight earned runs in seven innings, notching a 10.29 ERA, a 1.57 WHIP and a 2.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the process.
"He had his velocity back, and I think he's expanded the repertoire more to where he's able to do more with the fastball," Scioscia said. "But his command, his ability to pitch in, his ability to command a breaking ball for a strike, are all things that he needs to find."
Angels to attempt cowboy hat world record
ANAHEIM -- The Angels will take another crack at a Guinness World Record on June 2, this time for the "largest gathering of people wearing cowboy hats."
Fans in attendance that Saturday, when the Angels host the American League West-rival Rangers in a 7:05 p.m. PT game, will receive a complimentary Angels cowboy hat and -- considering the current record is only 500 -- will also be a part of history, in a way.
"These record attempts are becoming an annual event for us," Angels vice president of sales and marketing Robert Alvarado said in a statement. "By attempting our third world record to complement the last two seasons' events, we will deliver a unique and memorable experience that our fans have come to expect."
At the start of the fifth, the crowd will be prompted to wear their cowboy hats for 10 minutes, at which time a Guinness World Records adjudicator will officially certify the new record. The Angels anticipate a sellout that day.
The Angels have previously set records for "largest gathering of people wearing blankets" in 2010 and "largest gathering of people wearing masks" in 2011.
Angels catcher Chris Iannetta was out of the starting lineup for a second straight game Friday due to lingering soreness in his right hand/wrist area, where he was hit by a pitch during Jered Weaver's no-hitter on Wednesday night. Iannetta then came in as a defensive replacement in the ninth.
With Friday night's 4-0 loss to the Blue Jays, the Angels, for the first time in their history, were involved in a shutout for the fourth straight game. They won the first two (on Jerome Williams' shutout and Jered Weaver's no-hitter against the Twins) and lost the last two (falling victim to Toronto's Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez).
Ervin Santana (0-6, 5.59 ERA) is the first pitcher in Angels history to lose his first six starts in a season and the first pitcher since at least 1974 to have his team get shutout in five straight starts.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.