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Jered Weaver says he wants to pitch next season before Angels fall to Astros

Jered Weaver says he wants to pitch next season before Angels fall to Astros
Angels starter Jered Weaver had a 5.06 earned-run average this season. (Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

Jered Weaver wanted desperately to make one last start this season, he said, but his increasingly sore back would not comply for a spot in the rotation on Sunday. So he called it a year, and possibly a career as an Angel.

“As much as I wanted to, as much as I was looking forward to it, my back is not responding as quickly as it did when I had this injury before,” he said Saturday, before the Angels’ 3-0 loss to Houston at Angel Stadium. “It hurts me to say that I won’t be able to make that start.”

Weaver intends to pitch next season, but acknowledged that it may not happen here. The five-year, $85-million extension he signed at a discount in 2011 expires at the end of the World Series, and the 5.06 earned-run average he logged this season does not inspire confidence for the future. But both sides say they will discuss a return.

The gangly, trenchant right-hander, turning 34 Tuesday, arrived in Anaheim in 2006 after a two-year ascent from Long Beach State and quickly reached levels few outsiders predicted. He had a 2.56 ERA as a rookie. By age 27, he was one of the sport’s elite starters, an All-Star in three consecutive seasons. During that three-year peak, from 2010 to 2012, Weaver averaged 216 innings and led the American League with a 2.73 ERA.

Then came the precipitous decline, particularly in terms of velocity. In 2010, he averaged more than 90 mph with each fastball and reached as high as 95. In 2015, he did not reach 89 mph with any of his 800-plus fastballs.

The drop necessitated alterations to his approach. He began to rely heavily on his changeup and both breaking balls. This season, though, his velocity was so low during spring training that rival executives wondered if he’d even pitch. In one spring start against the Dodgers, his fastball averaged 79 mph.

He said he was stretching more than before and hoped the increased flexibility would allow him to recoup the lost velocity. He gained a bit back, but not enough, and most of his 31 starts were battles, though the Angels did manage to win 16 of those games.

“As rough as spring training was for Jered, trying to get where he needed to be with the velocity very slow in coming, I know that was frustrating for Jered and for all of us,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “But, as the season picked up, there’s no doubt in any of our minds that he could be a very good major league pitcher. And I think he feels it too.”

Weaver, ever stubborn, discussed the decision with Scioscia over the weekend. Asked what was said between the longtime colleagues, Weaver quickly said, "The normal 10-word conversation."

"I don't think he's touching on the things he wants to yet," Weaver said. "Me and him are kind of the same. We don't like the light on us, don't want to think that this is the last go-round, blah-blah-blah. But I think he knows that I definitely want to go out there. He knows that, but he's also looking out for my well-being, my future."

Presented with Sunday's circumstances, Scioscia said, the decision was not difficult. He said he did not want to put Weaver at risk, in the same way he did not want to rule out a return.

"There's a lot of water under that bridge," Scioscia said. "We've had some really good times. We've had some rough times. But, all through it, very few guys have taken the mound here at Angel Stadium with the same competitive fire that Jered has. It's been fun to watch."

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Weaver noted he had never been a free agent. He does not know what to expect.

"It's all I've known for 11 years," he said. "The Angels have been an amazing organization. I would love to stay here. But my options are open. I don't even know if the Angels want to take a shot on me or any of that."

Short hops

Left-hander Tyler  Skaggs' final start this season lasted 12/3 innings. Returning from three weeks sidelined with a strain in his forearm, he threw 21 balls among 45 pitches, walked two men and did not strike out anyone. Across all levels of the Angels' organization, he threw 89 innings after recovering from Tommy John surgery. … The Angels did not muster a baserunner against Houston starter Collin McHugh until there were two outs in the fifth inning. Andrelton Simmons dribbled a single up the middle but was stranded at second. The Angels had three more hits. Mike Trout remained in the game after taking a changeup to his left knee in the sixth.

Twitter: @pedromoura

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