ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Zack Greinke said he would “get lost without a map” in Southern California, but he made himself quite comfortable as he navigated through the clubhouse on his first day with the Los Angeles Angels.
The right-hander dropped his gear in his new locker between fellow pitchers Ervin Santana and Dan Haren and began to settle in on Saturday, one day after he was traded to the Angels by the Milwaukee Brewers.
“This was the first time going through this stuff in the middle of a season, but my first goal was to win games with Milwaukee,” Greinke said of the trade rumors leading up to the deal. “It just wasn’t working out for us, so we knew that some of us were more likely to get traded than others. But I knew that any team I was going to get traded to was probably a pretty good team.”
The arrival of the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner gives the Angels an All-Star rotation from top to bottom, and renews their confidence for the stretch drive. Greinke now has a chance to return to the postseason one year after he helped the Brewers reach the playoffs with a 16-6 record and 3.83 ERA in the regular season.
Milwaukee dropped back this year and shipped Greinke to the Angels on Friday for rookie shortstop Jean Segura and Double-A right-handers Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg.
This is the Angels’ third big-name acquisition before the July 31 trade deadline in five years. They got Haren from Arizona in 2010 and first baseman Mark Teixeira from Atlanta in 2008.
The 28-year-old Greinke, who was 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA with the Brewers, is in the final year of a four-year, $38 million contract. Right now, a new deal isn’t clouding his thoughts.
“I haven’t talked to my agent or anyone since I got traded, but this is an organization that probably everyone in baseball wants to be a part of,” Greinke said. “I’m just focusing on playing and hopefully winning as many games as possible. That’s all that’s going on my mind at the moment.”
Greinke will make his Angels debut on Sunday, the same day catcher Chris Iannetta is expected to make his first start off the disabled list after being activated on Saturday.
Greinke’s arrival created quite a buzz around the Angels.
“He’s a Cy Young Award winner and he’s had tremendous success, so it’s pretty nice to bring a guy into a rotation that we thought was already pretty good,” Angels ace Jered Weaver said. “We had a couple of battles when he was with Kansas City. He’s a competitor.
“He wants to win, and he’s proven that over the course of his career. He brings a winning mentality,” Weaver added. “He’s got electric stuff and he’s fun to watch, so I’m looking forward to what he brings to the table. I think he can help out, no doubt about it. When you pitch every fifth day, it’s hard to contribute day in and day out. But anytime you can have a guy like that, it’s definitely a plus.”
Greinke made only two previous starts at the “Big A.” Both were gems, but neither resulted in a victory.
On May 9, 2009, he allowed a run, four hits and no walks over eight innings. But Joe Saunders beat him 1-0 with a five-hitter for his first major league shutout, ending Greinke’s season-opening six-game winning streak. On Aug. 11, 2010, Greinke allowed a run and six hits in eight innings, but had to settle for a no-decision as Weaver also gave up a run in eight innings.
“Against us, Zack’s stuff showed up every time we saw him,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He was tough. He has the kind of stuff that lights scouts’ eyes up. That’s what I remember about him. So we’re excited.
“Our rotation at the start of the season had the potential to be as deep as any in baseball. We started off very strong, and then we kind of hit some bumps in the road. And now with Zack coming in, it gives us some depth that will show up as we get into the latter third of the season.”
To make room for Greinke on the roster, the Angels optioned left-hander Hisanori Takahashi to Triple-A Salt Lake.