Fans of Angels ace Jered Weaver will have a little more to love in 2015. The lanky 6-foot-7 right-hander, whose weight dipped to as low as 199 pounds last season, has bulked up to 224 pounds this winter, six pounds heavier than he’s ever been.
“Numbers-wise, it was all right,” Weaver said of a 2014 season in which he went 18-9 with a 3.59 earned-run average, striking out 169 and walking 65 in 213 1/3 innings. “But from a personal standpoint, me being ultra-competitive, I want to get deeper in games.
“The bullpen helped me a lot last year. I just want to gain some strength. I went on a different weight-lifting program last year, and it’s been paying off. I’m going to stick with it.”
The average velocity of Weaver’s fastball dipped to a career-low 86.3 mph last season, but Weaver, 32, said his plan to add — and hopefully maintain — more weight was motivated by endurance, not speed.
He averaged a little more than six innings a start in 2014 and has thrown just one complete game in the past two seasons after throwing seven complete games in 2011-2012.
“I don’t care about velocity — I just want to be stronger for the whole nine innings,” Weaver said. “If velocity comes along, so be it. I think I’ve shown I can pitch from 83 to 93 mph.”
Weaver, who was in Anaheim on Sunday night to bowl in Eddie Guardado’s “Stars and Strikes” fundraiser to help children with autism, threw his first bullpen session in preparation for spring training.
There has been much roster turnover in Weaver’s nine seasons in Anaheim, and this winter was no different. The Angels, who went a major league-best 98-64 but were swept by Kansas City in the division series last season, will have a new second baseman, designated hitter, backup catcher and several new pitchers.
But when pitchers and catchers report for spring training on Feb. 19, and position players report five days later, there will be one very familiar face missing, that of veteran second baseman Howie Kendrick, who was traded to the Dodgers for top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney.
“Howie was the first person I ever met in high Class-A ball, and we’ve been together for 11 years,” Weaver said. “When you have a guy playing behind you for that long, it’s a little tough to swallow. The organization felt it was necessary to get some other missing pieces.
“Howie’s name has been tossed around for quite a while now. He was a tremendous guy in the clubhouse. Offensively, it will be tough to make up those numbers, but the organization is going to try to fill in the pieces. We’re going to have a pretty good squad.”