St Louis Cardinals closing pitcher Jason Isringhausen is greeted by catcher… (George Nikitin / Associated…)
Tempe, Ariz. —
The Angels signed Jason Isringhausen to a minor-league contract Wednesday afternoon, but the way Manager Mike Scioscia was talking Thursday morning, the veteran right-hander seems more like a lock to make the team.
"It might sound like a subtle move on the surface, but it could be very important to us," Scioscia said. "Jason is going to slot in with the depth of [set-up men] LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Downs. We talk about that pyramid of getting to the closer. It's a little broader right now."
A rhombus of relief, perhaps? Or a trapezoid?
"You could call it a trapezoid," Scioscia said. "We're looking at it as a pyramid. If it forms itself into a trapezoid, so be it."
Isringhausen, 39, will make a base salary between $700,000 and $1 million if he makes the club, and the deal includes incentives for appearances. Last season, he appeared in 53 games for the New York Mets, posting a 3-3 record with seven saves and a 4.05 earned-run average, 44 strikeouts and 24 walks in 46-2/3 innings.
The former Oakland and St. Louis closer, who missed most of 2009 and all of 2010 because of an elbow injury, had 19 holds and converted seven of 11 save opportunities, including his 300th save, which ranks him third among active pitchers.
He was particularly effective against right-handed hitters, holding them to a .178 average, .248 slugging percentage and .498 OPS (on-base plus slugging).
"His velocity and breaking ball were good, and statistically, he had a fine year," Scioscia said. "I think he has adapted as a guy whose stuff might not be as crisp as it was eight, nine 10 years ago, but certainly the results were there."
Scioscia said surrounding second-year closer Jordan Walden, who had 32 saves but also led the American League with 10 blown saves last season, with another veteran was not the impetus for the Isringhausen signing.
"There is a sensitivity for guys who have been there before, how they prepare, and that will help some of the younger guys," Scioscia said. "But that's not the reason Jason was brought in. He was brought in because of his talent and ability to give us depth."
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