TEMPE, Ariz. — Could a little move make a big difference for pitcher Joe Blanton, who confounded the Angels and their fans by going 2-14 with a 6.04 earned run average and allowing 29 home runs last season?
Manager Mike Scioscia hopes so. Blanton moved from the first-base side of the rubber to the third-base side Wednesday and threw five scoreless innings against the Texas Rangers, allowing one hit, striking out five and walking none. He gave up seven runs and eight hits in his previous start against Colorado.
“Going to the other side of the mound gave him a slightly different perspective,” Scioscia said. “He pitched well against some good hitters.”
Blanton, who was demoted to the bullpen last July, is guaranteed $8.5 million this season, the second year of his two-year, $15-million deal, but he is not guaranteed a rotation spot.
Barring injury, it appears the Angels will open with a rotation of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Hector Santiago, Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs.
But if Blanton pitches effectively the rest of the spring, he would improve his chances of winning a long-relief spot or enhance what little trade value he has. Moving to the other side of the rubber could be a key.
“I think he gets a chance to create angles both to left-handers and right-handers, especially with his fastball, which he’s able to get cross-corner or down and in to a lefty,” Scioscia said. “Also, with his breaking ball, he can get it under a lefty’s swing or have more angle to a righty.”
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