LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Jesse Chavez was amped up for his spring training debut with the Los Angeles Angels.
Chavez pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three and giving up a single in the Angels’ 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
“Jesse looked really sharp,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He moves that ball around so well. He has such good movement and that’s what makes him successful. He really looked good today for the first couple.”
Chavez said he “was probably ready an hour or two” before the first pitch, this being his first outing with a new team.
The Angels signed Chavez, a Southern California native, to a $5.75 million contract to be a rotation candidate after he pitched strictly out of the bullpen last season.
“I prefer starting,” Chavez said. “It just gives me more weapons to use throughout a game and more adjustments to use. I feel if I’m sitting in the bullpen, I kind of let two or three pitches sit by the wayside. And it kind of tends to haunt me more than it tends to benefit me.”
Chavez was making his first start since Sept. 11, 2015, for Oakland. He was primarily a starter in 2014-15 with the Athletics.
He was utilized strictly in relief last season, going 1-2 with a 4.57 ERA in a combined 39 appearances for the Toronto Blue Jays and Dodgers.
His velocity also was a tick up from the previous two seasons.
“I think it could stay there if I keep on that same workout program I’ve done from the offseason transitioning into the season. If I keep that same workout program, I think the velocity will stay up,” he said.
The 33-year-old righty has been traded six times in his career and the Angels are his seventh major league club. He became a free agent after last season and for the first time got an opportunity to choose where he would play.
“It was fun,” said Chavez, who is from Southern California. “I jumped on it (Angels’ offer) as soon as I could, just to be able to be close to home and just to have the backing of the family right there, instead of a text or phone call kind of deal.”
Chavez is the favorite to earn the final rotation slot, but certainly is not taking it for granted.
“I never look at it like that,” Chavez said. “Subconsciously, yeah, I want to keep that mentality that’s it mine to lose and I hope everyone is keeping that mentality.
“But it’s nothing new for me. I’ve been in this situation before. You need somebody pushing you behind the scenes so to speak. I take that not with a grain of salt. I embellish it. I relish it because it’s going to make me better because you don’t want to get complacent in this game. You will always have competition.”
NOTES: The Angels scored two runs with two out in the ninth to beat the Rangers and run their record to 5-0. The Angels are undefeated in their past 16 exhibition games, dating to last season, going 14-0-2. “And we lost 88 in between,” Scioscia said. Angels star Mike Trout doubled, singled and was hit by a pitch. He is yet to make an out in five plate appearances over two games.
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