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Joe Thatcher, Angels' latest bullpen fix, thrilled to join a winner

BaseballMajor League BaseballLos Angeles AngelsJoe ThatcherArizona DiamondbacksTony CampanaRich Hill
Newly acquired Angels reliever Joe Thatcher pitched well for Arizona but is glad to be on a playoff contender

Joe Thatcher is 32, with eight years in the major leagues. He has yet to pitch in a playoff game.

No team opened play Saturday with a worse record than the Arizona Diamondbacks. On Saturday, the Diamondbacks traded Thatcher to the Angels, a team in position for a playoff spot.

"I've been on a lot of losing teams," Thatcher said. "Coming to a team like this is exciting, for sure."

The Angels acquired Thatcher to fill the left-handed relief void created by injuries to Sean Burnett.

"It's something we've been missing all year long," General Manager Jerry Dipoto said.

Thatcher posted a 2.63 earned-run average in 37 appearances for Arizona, with 25 strikeouts in 24 innings. He faced 100 batters and walked three.

Thatcher is the third reliever the Angels have added in eight days, following right-hander Jason Grilli and left-hander Rich Hill. The Angels bought Hill for $1 last Tuesday. He pitched in two games and faced four batters, but he got no outs, and he was designated for assignment Saturday.

Grilli, however, has made four scoreless appearances for the Angels.

"Our focus going into this trade deadline was to see how much we could help this bullpen," Dipoto said. 

The Angels still plan to explore adding a late-game reliever.

"I don’t know how much more tweaking we’ll need to do," Dipoto said. "If there is a way to help that group get better, we will try to do that."

Dipoto said he is generally satisfied with a team that ranks second in the American League in runs, is tied for first in fielding percentage, and is second in innings from its starting pitchers.

"You’re always looking for ways to get better," he said. "To this point, our focus has been on our bullpen. . . . Right now, we’re not anticipating making a move in any other area."

Thatcher, who was traded by the San Diego Padres to Arizona on the July 31 deadline day last year, said he was surprised by this trade.

"I went through the whole trade thing last year," he said. "I heard my name for six weeks, and it didn't happen until a couple of hours before the deadline. For it to happen this early was a shock."

In addition to Thatcher, the Angels obtained outfielder Tony Campana, who could serve as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner when rosters expand in September -- and October, if the Angels get there. In exchange for Thatcher and Campana, the Angels gave up double-A outfielder Zach Borenstein and Class-A reliever Joey Krehbiel.

The Angels honored Borenstein as their minor league player of the year in 2013, but he has bounced between double A and triple A this season. Baseball America, which ranked the Angels' farm system as the worst in baseball last winter, at that time ranked Borenstein their No. 9 prospect and Krehbiel the No. 23 prospect.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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BaseballMajor League BaseballLos Angeles AngelsJoe ThatcherArizona DiamondbacksTony CampanaRich Hill
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