Ernesto Frieri never found a comfort zone as the Angels' closer, so it was no real surprise Friday when he was traded to the Pirates in a deal involving struggling relievers.
Jason Grilli had a career-best 33 saves last season for the Pirates.
Charles LeClaire / USA TODAY Sports
By Michael Martinez
Ernesto Frieri never found a comfort zone as the Angels' closer, so it was no real surprise Friday when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a deal involving struggling relievers.
The Angels acquired right-hander Jason Grilli for Frieri, whose ERA ballooned to 6.39 and who had allowed 11 earned runs in eight innings this month.
Grilli, 37, had a career-best 33 saves last season for the Pirates but was 11 for 15 in save chances this season and had a 4.87 ERA.
Grilli isn't likely to take over the closer's role for the Angels. They still have Joe Smith, who recorded two saves this week against the Minnesota Twins and has essentially taken over the job.
Smith has seven saves but four blown saves for the Angels but has been more consistent of late, giving up just three earned runs in 10 innings this month.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia offered as much support as he could to Frieri, but there were few indications the right-hander was safe with a ninth-inning lead. He was acquired from the San Diego Padres in May 2012 and was spectacular, finishing with 23 saves, a 2.32 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.
This season, he was more bad than good, hitting stretches in which he threw with consistency but was usually unable to protect a lead. Earlier this month in Atlanta, for example, he failed to retire a batter, allowing five hits and four runs.
Thursday against the Twins, Frieri loaded the bases in the ninth inning before Joe Mauer delivered a three-run double against Smith.
It turned out to be Frieri's last appearance in an Angels uniform.