Phil Nevin Says Angels’ Closer ‘depends What The Game Dictates’


TEMPE, Ariz. — Although right-hander Carlos Estévez has been widely expected get the first crack at the Angels’ closer job, some mystery will remain until the first save situation.

“I was asked who would you use on the first night,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said Saturday. “I don’t know yet. It depends what the game dictates.”

The Angels signed Estévez to a two-year, $13.5-million deal in December. The official word at the time was only that he would have a chance to close. Estévez said winning that job was his goal.

Estévez, 30, had a 3.47 ERA last season with the Colorado Rockies, and his history shows signs that he should be even more effective out of the hitter-friendly environment of Coors Field. Last year, he struck out 10.8 hitters per nine innings on the road, compared with 6.3 at home.

In his first spring with the Angels, Estévez has been experimenting with different pitch usage, so it remains to be seen how he’ll perform when the games are real.

Estévez has allowed nine earned runs in 6 1/3 innings in big-league exhibition games. On Tuesday, he pitched a scoreless inning with three strikeouts, but he gave up a run in an inning on Saturday.

In the Tuesday game, Estévez threw nine fastballs, seven changeups and three sliders. Last season, he threw his fastball 70% of the time and his changeup and slider about 15% each, indicating that he may still have been experimenting.

If the Angels don’t use Estévez to close, the other most likely options are Ryan Tepera and Jimmy Herget.

Nevin was notably flexible with his closer choices last year after Raisel Iglesias was traded.

“If I bring it (lefty) Aaron Loup in the seventh and they throw up a bunch of righties to face him and they don’t have anybody else, Jimmy Herget is great against righties,” Nevin said. “Estévez is great against righties. Matt Moore has been great against righties. We’ll just kind of play it out see how it goes, but (Estévez) is definitely going to get some big outs late in the game most of the year for us.”

RODRIGUEZ UPDATE Right-hander Chris Rodriguez threw 30 pitches in a live batting practice session, his second such workout in the week. He had not faced hitters since before he underwent shoulder surgery in 2021.

Nevin said the next step for Rodriguez will likely be another live batting practice session, and then they could have him pitch in a minor-league or simulated game.

“That’s two outings in a row he felt good and was able to get his numbers up and the velo up, the shape’s up,” Nevin said. “Everything looks good on him. Obviously it’s the next day there’s always some nervous anticipation. Hopefully he feels good tomorrow and he can do it again in a couple of days.”

NOTES Infielder David Fletcher was originally in the lineup at shortstop for the Angels’ final Cactus League game, but he was a late scratch because of abdominal tightness. …

Right-hander Chris Devenski decided to remain with the Angels in the minors. The veteran was in camp on a minor-league deal, and he had the option to declare himself a free agent if the Angels didn’t add him to the roster by Saturday. …

The Angels released right-hander Nash Walters and outfielder Luis Barrera.

Vittorio Rienzo

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