Greinke arrives, Takahashi sent to minors
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Newly acquired starting pitcher Zack Greinke arrived in town Saturday and took care of all his required obligations. He met with his manager and pitching coach, introduced himself to his Angels teammates, met with the media and put on his new uniform.
The easiest part will be sliding into the rotation.
Greinke will make his first start Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium. Then the Angels head out on a 10-game trip that begins with four games against the American League West-leading Rangers.
Manager Mike Scioscia's rotation against Texas: Ervin Santana on Monday, followed by Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and CJ Wilson. Not on the list is rookie Garrett Richards, whose role is currently undefined.
The Angels officially put Greinke on their 25-man roster and made room for him by sending left-handed reliever Hisanori Takahashi to their Triple-A affiliate at Salt Lake. It was an unexpected move because Takahashi is being paid $4.2 million this season and it means Richards may work out of the bullpen even though his future is as a starter.
A strong case could be made that the Angels would be better off starting Richards rather than Santana, who has struggled with his delivery for most of the season and hasn't won in six weeks. But Scioscia is reluctant to give up on Santana and will keep him on a five-inning limit Monday. If something goes wrong, he still has right-hander Jerome Williams, a starter until his demotion to the bullpen recently.
"We don't know where Garret's going to fit in right now," Scioscia said. "We don't know exactly where Jerome is going to fit in. There's a couple of issues that we're going to let settle and we'll see where we are. But Ervin's a guy that needs to get out there and pitch. We've already pushed him back."
Scioscia could have saved Greinke until the Rangers series, but he preferred to keep him on his usual four days' rest. Besides, Greinke has a 19-game home winning streak covering stints with the Milwaukee Brewers and Kansas City Royals, the third longest streak in the majors since 1919.
Greinke, 9-3 with the Brewers before Friday's trade, admitted he didn't know many of his new teammates until meeting them in the clubhouse. He played with reliever LaTroy Hawkins in Milwaukee last season, knew third baseman Alberto Callaspo from their days with the Royals and played on AAU travel teams with catcher Bobby Wilson when they were teenagers in Florida.
"That's about it," he said. "They've always kind of been the enemy team."
Not any longer. Although most of the Angels know him by reputation alone, they're enthused about adding Greinke to a rotation that has struggled for a while.
"Any time you can add someone like that to a rotation that's already star-studded, it's exciting," said catcher Chris Iannetta, who was activated from the disabled list before the game. "He's a really tough at-bat. He doesn't give you a lot of pitches to hit, and when he does, it's still not ideal."
Scioscia, recalling Greinke from his days with the Kansas City Royals, said: "He was tough. He has the kind of stuff that lights up scouts' eyes. He controls the running game, he's an outstanding athlete, a great fielder, has great game feel out there. Hopefully, he'll get comfortable and we'll see that."
Greinke, 28, said he's somewhat familiar with the Southern California area but only in the way a tourist would be.
"I've been here probably 20, 30 times," he said. "I'd get lost if I didn't have a map. I know what direction to kind of head in, but I don't know what roads to take. I got a rental car every time I came to LA just because I know there's a lot of stuff to do around here. I definitely enjoyed my time in the past."
The question is, will he enjoy the rest of his summer enough to re-up with the team on a long-term deal this winter when he becomes a free agent.
It's too soon to think about that, he said. But he made it sound as if he might be open to discussions when the season ends.
"I don't usually talk about that stuff with the media," he said. "It's an organization that probably anyone in baseball would want to be a part of. That's one way to put it."