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Angels Closer Walden Looks To Improve After ‘OK’ Season

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – Jordan Walden came into spring training trying to improve on a season that wasn’t what he wanted it to be.

The Angels closer was 5-5 with a 2.98 ERA and 32 saves in 2011 but he also had 10 blown saves, tied for the major league lead.

“It wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but I learned a lot,” Walden said.

This season, Walden hopes to make his fastball even more effective with a solid change-up, something he’ll work on heavily this spring.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia had a much higher opinion of Walden’s first year.

“Starting off in the back end of a major league bullpen with a team that hoped to contend and eventually going back to the closer’s role … Jordan had a terrific first go-round,” Scioscia said. “I think you can look at every player (and there are going to be) some bumps and some warts as far as how their season goes. You can say there were some things with Jordan. He’s not that far off. But overall he was magnificent.”

Newly signed right-hander Jason Isringhausen noticed Walden during interleague play last season.

“I watched Jordan last year when the Angels came into New York,” said Isringhausen, then with the New York Mets. “He walked a couple of guys and then he struck out the side. So, he’s got the arm to do it.”

Isringhausen, who has 300 major-league saves, signed a one-year, $700,000 minor-league deal with the Angels this week after turning down a handful of major league clubs that were, to him, in rebuilding modes and wanted him mainly to mentor their younger relievers.

Where Isringhausen falls into the Angels bullpen will be determined, but he made a solid return to the diamond with the Mets last season after missing all of 2010 and nearly all of 2009 with a right elbow problem.

His 2011 season, which he finished with a 3-3 record and a 4.05 ERA, was cut short by back problems stemming from a painful sciatic nerve.

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