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Jerome Williams is still pinching himself about chance with Angels

ANGELS FYI

Well-traveled right-hander, 29, is 2-0 since being called up from triple-A Salt Lake, where he expected to stay for the entire season. Says Mike Scioscia: 'He's worked for this opportunity. He's making the most out of it.'

August 31, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Angels starting pitcher Jerome Williams works in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles.
Angels starting pitcher Jerome Williams works in the second inning against… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Reporting from Seattle -- Jerome Williams likens it to a fairy tale. In fact, the right-hander's recent rise to relevance has been so surprising that even he has trouble accepting it's not make-believe.

"I never thought that this would happen," Williams said Wednesday, standing on the steps outside the visitors' dugout at Safeco Field, where a night earlier he had pitched the Angels to an important pennant-race win over the Seattle Mariners.

The story of how Williams, a former first-round pick of the San Francisco Giants, essentially pitched himself out of baseball has been well-documented. But over the last 3½ seasons he has worked his way back, pitching in Taiwan, Mexico, Puerto Rico and two independent leagues while battling weight problems and a shoulder injury.

Then the Angels offered him a minor league contract in late June and by late August he was back in the majors. And now he has earned a spot in the team's rotation by going 2-0 with a 3.21 earned-run average in two starts.

"He's been terrific," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's worked for this opportunity. He's making the most out of it."

When the Angels offered Williams, 29, a chance to pitch at Salt Lake, he thought of it as nothing more than an opportunity to showcase his abilities for next year.

"I just wanted to play this year out. See what happens next year," he said. "I wasn't on the roster. I just came from independent ball. So in my mind I'm thinking, it'll never happen."

And the Angels did pass over Williams to promote double-A pitcher Garrett Richards to the rotation. But when Richards strained a groin muscle one inning into his second start, Williams received the call he hadn't been expecting.

"It's crazy," he said. "Right now I'm just going day by day. I'm just living in the moment because I've been through a lot."

Now all Williams has to do is write the fairy-tale ending.

"I felt like I'd never be able to come back [and] I came back," he said. "It is a fairy tale. But it ain't got a happy ending if we don't reach the playoffs."

Rangers add another reliever

For the second time in a month, the Texas Rangers made a couple of moves that appeared to make them better while the Angels made some phone calls but wound up with nothing to show for their efforts.

Hours before the deadline to set postseason rosters, Texas General Manager Jon Daniels picked up left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez from Baltimore for right-hander Pedro Strop and reacquired catcher Matt Treanor from Kansas City for cash considerations.

At the non-waiver trade deadline in July, the Rangers added relievers Koji Uehara from Baltimore and Mike Adams from San Diego.

Scioscia, who earlier in the week lamented his team's lack of depth in the bullpen, played down the significance of the Rangers' activism.

"We can't have our time consumed with thinking about what other clubs are doing," Scioscia said. "Our team right here still has the opportunity to reach our goals. And that's what we're going to focus on."

Short hops

Pitcher Kevin Jepsen and first baseman C.J. Cron underwent surgeries Wednesday. Jepsen had an arthroscopy on his right knee and Cron, the team's first-round draft pick, had his right patella repaired. Cron will undergo shoulder surgery this fall.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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