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Angels’ Amir Garrett has new mindset in hopes of career rebound

Angels’ Amir Garrett has new mindset in hopes of career rebound

CLEVELAND — After he was released by a third team within a year, Amir Garrett was pitching in Triple-A with the Angels when he got some career-altering advice from an old friend.

Garrett, a 32-year-old left-hander who broke in the majors as Joey Votto’s teammate with the Cincinnati Reds, said Votto gave him the message he needed to hear last month.

“You’re too good not to be in the big leagues,” Votto told Garrett.

Votto went further and told Garrett that he needed to stop pitching defensively.

“Don’t be scared to get hit,” Votto told him. “Throw the ball over the plate like I’ve seen you at your best. The way you attack hitters, not a lot of damage is going to get done. Just trust your stuff.”

After an early outing for Salt Lake City in which he issued three walks, Garrett proceeded to issue just one walk in his next six innings, with seven strikeouts. He did not allow a run.

That earned Garrett a promotion to the Angels, and he has not allowed a run in his first three games in the majors. He has struck out five and walked two in 2 2/3 innings.

“Nothing is finished,” Garrett said. “It’s still a work in progress. I’m just going to keep that mindset that I had.  And I’m going to go out and try to put zeroes as much as I can for this team.”

At his best, Garrett was a dominating reliever who threw in the high 90s and struck more than a batter per inning. As recently as last season, he had a 3.33 ERA with the Kansas City Royals, but he was released by the Royals last summer. The Cleveland Guardians signed him and released him without bringing him to the majors. He was in spring training with the San Francisco Giants, but released before opening day.

Garrett said his slider, which is his signature pitch, is never good in spring training, and the Giants didn’t have the patience to wait.

The Angels then gave him another chance.

“It’s been a long journey for me to get back here,” Garrett said. “I felt like I was I was in a good space (at Salt Lake). I felt like I was back to my old dominant self when I was in Cincinnati. And I feel that I’m even better than that right now. I think I’m in a good spot right now, in a really good spot.”

LOOKING BETTER

Left-hander José Suarez gave the Angels reason for hope when he pitched two scoreless innings, with three strikeouts, at the end of Friday’s 6-0 victory over the Guardians.

Suarez brought a 10.13 ERA into the game. The Angels hung with him because they believed they would lose him to another team if they put him on waivers.

Suarez said he adjusted his mechanics to make sure he’s moving straight toward the plate. He said he’d been moving side to side too much. His fastball velocity also ticked up slightly during Friday’s game.

“I felt great last night,” Suarez said. “That was my stuff. That’s how I want to be … Yesterday was 100%. I feel like I can fight right now.”

Manager Ron Washington said he was encouraged that Suarez showed some tangible improvements.

“I thought he had more oomph on his fastball,” Washington said. “The breaking balls that he threw, he put them in a good spot. Threw some good changeups. So he’s getting his feel back for his pitches. If he can continue to get the feel for his pitches, he could be a tremendous weapon for us.”

NOTES

Luis Rengifo was out of the lineup Saturday because he had been feeling sick, Washington said. …

Brandon Drury returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games with headaches and a stiff neck, the result of a dive in Tuesday’s game.

UP NEXT

Angels (RHP Griffin Canning, 1-3, 7.45) at Guardians (RHP Carlos Carrasco, 1-2, 6.59) at Progressive Field, 10:40 a.m. PT Sunday, Bally Sports West, 830 AM.

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