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ANGELS FYI

Jepsen, not Speier, makes the cut

September 29, 2008|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

The Angels settled on their postseason roster Sunday morning, and the news was both surprising and upsetting for reliever Justin Speier, who was left off the team in favor of rookie Kevin Jepsen.

"It's definitely disappointing," Speier said. "I felt like I've pitched well lately, so I know that they probably had a tough decision. [But] the bottom line is I didn't have the kind of year that I wanted to have."

Speier, who appeared in 62 games, threw well the first month of the season, then did not give up a run in his final four outings in September. In between, however, he was hit hard, finishing the season 2-8 with a 5.03 earned-run average, yielding 15 homers in 68 innings.

His season isn't necessarily over, though. If the Angels advance in the playoffs they can change their roster between series, so Speier -- along with infielder Sean Rodriguez and catcher Bobby Wilson -- will continue to travel and work out with the team to stay ready.

"When I signed over here I definitely wanted to be a part of something special. We have a special team here, and I feel like I'm a part of it," said Speier, who signed with the Angels as a free agent after the 2006 season. "I'm going to work out and stay ready and be a positive influence on the guys here.

"I'm just looking ahead now."

Sunday's announcement was also a surprise for Jepsen, who was pitching for the U.S. Olympic team five weeks ago and for the double-A Arkansas Travelers two months before that. But for him, the surprise was a pleasant one.

"I'm ecstatic," said Jepsen, who didn't consider a playoff spot a possibility even after he was promoted to the Angels' top farm club in Salt Lake City in June.

"This is definitely amazing," he said. "It wasn't even a thought in my head."

The hard-throwing right-hander joined the Angels three weeks ago, then had scoreless outings in six of his nine appearances, striking out seven in 8 1/3 innings. It's a trajectory similar to the one Francisco Rodriguez followed in 2002, when he started the season in double A before coming to the majors in mid-September.

Rodriguez wound up playing a key role in the Angels' run to their only World Series title that year. And though Manager Mike Scioscia said it wasn't fair to compare anyone to Rodriguez, who saved a record 62 games this season, his scouting report on Jepsen sounds a lot like the one Rodriguez had six years ago.

"He's a power arm with good stuff. And he's throwing the ball well," the manager said. "Kevin has the type of arm which could grow as you get into the playoffs. So we're going to give him a look."

Best of the rest

Also winning spots in the bullpen for the first round of the playoffs were right-handers Jon Garland and Jered Weaver, who were in the starting rotation during the regular season.

The rest of the roster selections went pretty much to form with Brandon Wood and Robb Quinlan making the team as backup infielders, Reggie Willits and Gary Matthews Jr. as backup outfielders and switch-hitting Kendry Morales as a utility player and pinch-hitter.

In addition, Dustin Moseley, Shane Loux and Jason Bulger will pitch in the Arizona Instructional League.

O'Day out

An MRI performed on rookie reliever Darren O'Day's shoulder revealed a torn labrum, an injury the right-hander will try to heal through exercise rather than surgery.

"I'm going to rehab it and see how it goes," said O'Day, who pitched in 30 games for the Angels, going 0-1 with a 4.57 ERA.

O'Day said he felt pain in his last appearance Sept. 16 in Oakland and when the shoulder didn't respond to rest, he was examined by team orthopedist Lewis Yocum, who found the tear.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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