ANAHEIM, Calif.--Angels reliever Mike Morin, living up to his advance notice, is making a good first impression as part of the bullpen.
The 23-year-old right-hander entered Friday's play not having allowed a run in 82/3 innings of relief work since his big-league debut April 30.
Morin arrived with heightened expectations after he was called up from triple-A Salt Lake because he was the Angels' minor-league pitcher of the year in 2013.
"Mike is throwing good strikes, he's got the ball down, he's changing speeds well," Manager Mike Scioscia said.
"In spring training he struggled with a couple things . . . but he's worked them out and he's throwing the ball very well."
The 6-foot-4 Morin throws a fastball, slider and change-up, and it is his change-up that has received a lot of attention.
Angels catcher Hank Conger said it's "probably one of the better change-ups I've ever seen in the league as far as speed difference 1/8from his fastball3/8 and the way he throws it."
After throwing a fastball above 90 mph, Morin will deliver a change-up in the low-70s that keeps batters off balance.
Morin said a coach at his high school in Overland Park, Kan., initially taught him the change-up during his senior year but it "felt super uncomfortable at first" so he didn't throw it that season.
But he began using the pitch the summer before he entered the University of North Carolina and "I threw it a lot over the course of three years there," Morin said. After his junior year at North Carolina, he was drafted by the Angels in 2012 in the 13th round.
Morin's poise on the mound also has drawn praise.
"His makeup is his strength," Scioscia said.
Conger said "one of the biggest things I've noticed, and it's actually really cool, is that he's going after hitters."
"Some guys come up 1/8to the majors3/8 and get timid, especially for their first go-around in the league, but he's doing a great job of attacking hitters and trusting his stuff," Conger said.
But Morin acknowledged he didn't start getting comfortable until he had faced his first few big-league batters.
When he made his debut, pitching the ninth inning in the Angels' 7-1 win over the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium, Morin said, "I knew it was going to be overwhelming almost, but it truly was overwhelming. I didn't know where the ball was going."
Now, "I know what to expect in terms of not being anxious," he said. "I feel confident and hopefully I can help the team win."
Third baseman David Freese, sidelined with a broken middle finger on his right hand, was scheduled to join triple-A Salt Lake in Reno for rehabilitation games, Scioscia said.
"The last two days he's really picked it up to where he's very, very close" to returning, Scioscia said. "He'll finish it off down there with a couple of workouts, play some third base and then be ready to join us sometime next week."
Freese suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch May 2.
Rays 3, Angels 0
KEY MOMENT: The game was a scoreless pitchers' duel until the fifth inning when Tampa Bay shortstop Yunel Escobar hit a two-out solo home run over the centerfield wall on an 0-2 pitch from Angels ace Jered Weaver. Former Dodger James Loney and Evan Longoria later added run-scoring singles.
AT THE PLATE: It was a rough night for Albert Pujols. With the bases loaded in the fifth inning and two out, Pujols grounded out to end the Angels' threat. In the seventh inning, the Angels had runners at first and second with two out and Pujols also left them stranded by flying out to right field. Pujols has one run batted in since May 5.
ON THE MOUND: Weaver allowed two runs on three hits in seven innings while tossing 105 pitches. Reliever Michael Kohn gave up one run and walked two in one-third of an inning. The Angels managed only two hits off Rays starter Chris Archer in his 5 2/3 scoreless innings and four hits overall.
ON THE FIELD: Veteran John McDonald, playing third base for the injured David Freese, jumped and snagged Wil Myers' drive down the third-base line in the fourth inning. The 39-year-old McDonald then stole second base in the fifth inning, his first steal of the season.
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