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Angels pitcher Sean O'Sullivan has new approach

After bouncing between the minor and major leagues in 2009, the 22-year-old right-hander looks for consistency and says he won't get caught up in making the perfect pitch.

March 01, 2010|By Jim Peltz

Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. — Sean O'Sullivan, in some ways, had a memorable rookie season with the Angels in 2009. The burly right-handed pitcher started 10 games and posted a 4-2 record.

But the 22-year-old from San Diego had his share of problems — including a 6.29 earned-run average as a starter — which is why he kept bouncing between the Angels' triple-A Salt Lake team and the major league club.

He's not likely to supplant anyone on the Angels' five-man rotation early this season either. But regardless of whether he's playing in Salt Lake or Anaheim, O'Sullivan said he's learning to avoid his mistakes of 2009.

"I can't control whether I go up, whether I go down, I can only control how hard I work and how much effort I put on the field," he said Monday.

"Everything else is out of my hands," he said. "If I go out there and throw six no-hitters and don't get called up, there's nothing I can do about it. So I'm just going to put in 100% and try to give them reason to make a move."

O'Sullivan had four stretches with the Angels last season; he won his debut June 16 with a victory over the San Francisco Giants and was 3-0 in his first five big league starts. But after getting pummeled on several occasions during the rest of the season, he set new goals for 2010.

That included "being a little more consistent" and throwing "more breaking balls for strikes," he said. In addition, "in those stints where I was having trouble, I was trying to do too much. I was trying to make perfect pitches instead of just trusting my stuff."

"I felt only a perfect pitch was going to get the job done, where in reality I just needed to make a good pitch and let the batter take care of the rest of it," he said.

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said O'Sullivan — along with Trevor Bell and some other young pitchers who had limited duty with the big league club last year — has "a lot of upside and a lot more in them than we saw last year."

"The fact that our rotation is deep really works in their benefit," Scioscia said. "They're going to be able to push their game to a level that when they get their next opportunity, they're going to be better prepared for it. It's not a bad thing for them … to be battling for a job."

In the meantime, O'Sullivan said he has been getting valuable advice from the Angels' starting pitchers. Tops on the list? "Get ahead — strike one," he said.

"It sounds so simple, but it's so much easier to pitch when you're ahead in the count," O'Sullivan said. "Your options are so much wider, as opposed to being behind in the count, where the hitter knows you've got to come in there with a strike."

O'Sullivan conceded he got behind in counts far too often last year. But this season, he said, "That's going to change."

Short hops

O'Sullivan was among several pitchers who threw batting practice Monday. Others included Tommy Mendoza, Jered Weaver, Jason Bulger, Andrew Taylor, Fernando Rodriquez, Brian Fuentes, Rich Thompson, Trevor Reckling and Brian Stokes.... The Angels plan a 5½-inning intrasquad game Wednesday before Thursday's spring opener against the Chicago White Sox.

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