TEMPE, Ariz. Nick Adenhart could start a season in the major leagues for the first time in his career.
He is 22, so this should be quite an accomplishment. But, after 12 innings in Anaheim last season, Adenhart already is fighting off the stigma attached to those top prospects that do not prosper from day one in the majors.
Adenhart made his Triple-A debut last season, roaring to a 4-0, 0.87 start at Salt Lake. The Angels promoted the righthander on May 1, and at 21 he was the youngest active pitcher in the majors.
“I got called up, and I was realizing a dream,” the 2004 14th-round pick out of Williamsport (Md.) High said.
The smile faded fast. He started three games and posted a 9.00 ERA. He gave up 18 hits in 12 innings, walked 13 and struck out four.
“I felt like I had to not give up any runs and throw a shutout every time out,” Adenhart said, “and wow everybody.”
He did make an impression on everybody, if not the best one. The Angels sent him back to Salt Lake, and the rest of his summer was such a clunker—5-13, 7.08 in 21 starts—that they did not bring him back in September.
“I put pressure on myself,” Adenhart said. “That was enough of that. I’m just having fun now.”
As spring training drew to a close, so were the Angels. With Kelvim Escobar and Ervin Santana scheduled to start the season on the disabled list, Adenhart had made his pitch to start the season in the Angels’ rotation.
In 13 spring innings, he was 1-0, 4.05, with two walks and 10 strikeouts. His delivery has become consistent and repeatable, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
“His stuff is terrific,” Scioscia said. “Last year, the struggles he had were not because of stuff . . . There were certainly some command issues we saw. Where he is this year to where he was last year as far as command, he’s much improved.”
• The Angels sent righthanders Francisco Rodriguez and Matt Wilhite, catcher Ben Johnson, infielder Freddy Sandoval and outfielders Terry Evans, Adam Pavkovich and Chris Pettit to minor league camp.
• The Angels expected righthander Anthony Ortega, their minor league pitcher of the year last season, to compete for a spot in the major league rotation. But Ortega reported to camp with a tired arm from winter ball, and the Angels optioned him to Salt Lake after one Cactus League inning. Ortega, 23, went 14-7, 3.45 between Salt Lake and Double-A Arkansas last season.