Scott Kazmir has yet to pitch a game for the Angels, but he dropped a reference to the rally monkey into his introductory news conference Sunday at Angel Stadium.
"It kind of feels like a playoff atmosphere every time you're here," Kazmir said. "You have the rally monkey, the whole thing going on."
Kazmir, acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, is scheduled to make his Angels debut Wednesday in Seattle. The Angels traded three prospects to get Kazmir, whose contract extends through 2011, with a club option for 2012.
As a player traded during a multiyear contract, Kazmir has the option to demand a trade from the Angels during the off-season. He made no commitment one way or the other Sunday, but he sounded thrilled to join the Angels.
"I'm looking at this year right now," he said. "That's all I can think of.
"I would love to finish out my contract here, in an organization like this. I'm lucky to be a part of it."
General Manager Tony Reagins said he has yet to discuss the issue with Kazmir and his agent, but said he was not concerned about it.
"We're still working through some things," Reagins said. "It's a non-issue at this point."
When reports of the trade surfaced Friday, hours before the Rays told him about it, Kazmir said he sent text messages to Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher, who had coached him in Tampa Bay.
"I didn't get a response," Kazmir said.
After the trade was announced, the two men exchanged several text messages.
Kazmir could figure prominently in the Angels' October plans. He started Game 1 of the World Series last season, giving up three runs in six innings, and his career record against the beasts of the American League East is impressive: 6-4 with a 2.53 earned-run average against the New York Yankees; 8-7 with a 3.59 ERA against the Boston Red Sox.
"You really get a lot of adrenaline," Kazmir said. "I really feel comfortable on the big stage. Facing the Yankees, facing the Red Sox at Fenway, you really get that vibe.
"You get pumped. You really get ready for the game."
Save that option
Kazmir takes the rotation spot of rookie Trevor Bell, who did not survive the third inning in either of his last two starts.
"After my last start, I thought I'd come in here and pack my bags," Bell said.
The Angels decided to keep Bell as a long reliever for now, mindful that rosters expand this week. By not sending Bell back to the minor leagues, the Angels can complete this season without using an option on him. At the end of the season, the Angels will have three option years left on Bell, not two.
"If we could wait a couple days and not burn an option, it could be advantageous down the road," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "But, first and foremost, if there was no role for him, we'd consider something different."
Reliever Jason Bulger, who has not pitched since Wednesday, said he experienced tightness in his right shoulder while warming up Thursday. He is expected to be available in the series in Seattle that starts today.
"They're just giving me a couple days," he said.
Bulger said the Angels' medical staff examined him and did not order an MRI test. He said he had "overused" the shoulder with too much long toss and weight training before Thursday's game.