Walden, on Year 2 as closer: “I think I have a way better understanding of what it takes”

The Blue Jays’ signing of Francisco Cordero on Tuesday pretty much made it official. Barring an unforeseen trade, you can be almost sure that Jordan Walden will go into the season as the Angels’ closer, a sentiment general manager Jerry Dipoto continually sounded in favor of throughout the offseason. Dipoto would still like to upgrade the bullpen, and a source said he has at least tendered a formal offer to Luis Ayala, but there aren’t really any closers left in the free-agent market (unless you consider Brad Lidge one at this point, which you probably shouldn’t).

The Angels, for good reason, see a lot of promise in the 24-year-old, hard-throwing right-hander, who showed flashes of dominance but also experienced his share of ups and downs as a rookie in 2011.

Walden joined Angels Talk on AM 830 KLAA on Wednesday and said he has already begun throwing almost on an everyday basis in his native Texas. Here are the highlights of his conversation with host Terry Smith

On his rookie season … 

“It was just a great experience, and I learned a lot from last year. Early on in my career in that role as a closer, I was a rookie, I hadn’t been on the road trips, I was new to all the stadiums, it was all of those things. So now I’m going into a new year, knowing what it takes to be at that level.”

On being more prepared for the role this year … 

“Being more comfortable, you know? Being there, saying, ‘I’ve already pitched here.’ I’m going to be a lot more relaxed, and just knowing mentally what I have to do and physically knowing what I have to do to withstand a long season.”

On pitches he’s integrating to his fastball-slider mix … 

“Last year I showed bits and pieces of my changeup, but I think going into spring, getting into the games in spring, I’m really going to try to focus on trying to throw my changeup in games and getting a feel for it in game situations, because you can sit in the bullpen and throw a changeup all day, but once you get in a game and have a hitter up there, it’s a lot different.”

On the Angels having confidence in him as their closer … 

“Oh it’s huge. [Manager Mike] Scioscia having that confidence in me and everybody, especially with the great team that we’re going to have this year. It’s a big role, and I’m just looking forward to it. I’m excited.”

On the toughest part of being a big league closer … 

“Just being able to pitch three days, making sure you have your good stuff every night. If not, you know, sometimes you’re going to be off, but when you’re off, you have to make sure you get people out. You have to find ways. I’ve still got learning to do, but I think I have a way better understanding of what it takes.”

On the Angels bringing in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson … 

“Oh man, I was blown away. I never thought that would happen this season. I’m just excited for Spring Training, to meet some new people and have a new little team.”

On how he found out about the moves … 

“I woke up and my phone had like 15 missed calls, 15 text messages, and I was just like, ‘Why is everybody calling me?’ And everybody was texting me and I was just like, ‘No way.’ Then when I turned the TV on and they signed CJ Wilson, so it was just like, ‘Wow.'”

Other stuff … 

* MLB.com will unveil their Top 100 Prospects on MLB Network at 7 p.m. PT Hint: Mike Trout made the list. 

* MLB Network will feature an interview with Mike Scioscia, Joe Maddon, Ron Roenicke and Bud Black on Friday at 6 p.m. 

* And here’s a blog post with an update on the Luis Ayala situation

Alden 

15 Comments

I will never forget the first time I saw Walden pitch… Two 100 plus fast balls for strike one and strike two, then a wicked slider that broke like a wiffle ball for strike three. From that point I never doubted that Walden was destined to be one of baseballs premier closers.

I agree with Muzik. I sent a top ten reasons to watch the Angel in 2011 to Lyle Spencer about this time last year: One was “Jordan Walden throwing 100 mph”. Add in a MLB change-up and its “game over” at the end of the 8th!

Our 2012 team has a strong chance to be the best Angel team ever.

Feb 19th can’t get here soon enough.

Walden is one of the keys to the Angels season in 2012. If he can cut his blown saves by 66%, just imagine winning about 6 more games right there. Add CJ Wilson and we have a chance to win 100!

We missed it big not coming up with Ryan Madson.That would have given MR Walden the time he needs to grow.Jor dan is still learning.I think MR Dipoto missed this one.Hope I’m wrong on this one!

no dude. definately check out the mlb 2k10 tilarer. it gives full detail, plus you can really get in season feels when playing. you wont feel like a win doesnt matter cuz its just a vid game, you feel like every win is what keeps you going! go for it

Dear Callie with a CI know how you feel. My sister is 5 years older than me. She has arihittrs, so she’s focused her entire life on academics. She graduated 16th out of approx 420 students in high school. Because of an older child excelling in academics, and me just entering high school this year, they expect me to do just as well. I’m more artistic and love to write, but my parents don’t see any value in this talent at all. They think academics is the only way to succeed. Help me out buck

I hope Walden succeeds, but I can’t help feeling that leaping off his rear foot is bound to add extraneous variance to his motion and thereby interfere with his consistency/ control. I know the thinking is that he is getting extra power into his fastball by doing this, but I wonder whether that is actually so.

Are bullpen is are heel.

Swap Murray and Robinson, and I’m also leaning Brian Roberts over Davey Johnson. Brian will alyaws be just like Cal, and Oriole for life, and a second switch-hitter wouldn’t hurt either!

siting on bank wall with buddy ray griffin all night

Pingback: Analysing Jordan Walden: Part One

Oh man, I was blown away. I never thought that would happen this season.

Uh, what\’s your point? The Yankees are hugely poauplr knew that. And I guarantee if you went to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim\’s website after game 6, you wouldn\’t see highlights of the Yankees winning.

I have to do and physically knowing what I have to do to withstand a long season.”

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