Notes: Byrd gets Game 3 starting nod

Notes: Byrd gets Game 3 starting nod

ANAHEIM -- Early Monday, Angels right-hander Paul Byrd kept reiterating to reporters that he was just happy to be on a playoff team and that pitching in the bullpen would be fine if that's what manager Mike Scioscia wanted.

The more Byrd talked, the more his body language seemed to say that the hard-throwing Ervin Santana was a lock to start Game 4 of the American League Division Series in Yankee Stadium.

But all this was before he heard the official news from the skipper. Not only did Byrd make the starting rotation over Santana, but he'll leapfrog Jarrod Washburn and take the ball in Game 3.

"I'm honored, excited and glad they're giving me the ball," Byrd said. "I'm ready to go."

According to Scioscia, the decision had nothing to do with Byrd's experience -- he's 34 years old, has been in the Majors for a decade and pitched in the playoffs for Atlanta last year -- and Santana's lack thereof.

"It's the way he's throwing the ball," Scioscia said. "It was a tough decision. We have a lot of guys pitching well."

Byrd certainly did his part this year after signing over the winter for one year and $5 million. He was second in the AL in quality starts with 22 and went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA.

Now, he'll get the ball in the House That Ruth Built, which sets up lefty Jarrod Washburn for a Game 4 start. Scioscia said he felt it was a good idea to give Washburn extra rest, given the fact that Washburn has been sidelined by left elbow tendinitis of late.

Santana, the hard-throwing 22-year-old who began the season in Triple-A, but ended up winning 12 games -- including the division clincher last week in Oakland -- looks like the Angels' primary long reliever. He said that's OK with him.

"I'm happy anyway because wherever they put me, I'll pitch and do my job," Santana said.

Santana said he worked out of the bullpen in the Dominican Winter League last year, and would solicit the advice of starter-turned-reliever Kelvim Escobar in the bullpen on Tuesday before Game 1.

No lefty in 'pen again: Scioscia took heat all winter for not having a left-hander in the bullpen in last year's ALDS against the Boston Red Sox. It cost the Angels big time when Scioscia summoned in Washburn to face David Ortiz in the 11th inning of Game 3 at Fenway Park, and Ortiz hit the first pitch he saw for a series-winning homer over the Green Monster.

But Scioscia will once again opt for a series without a southpaw in relief.

The roster revealed that lefty specialist Jason Christiansen was left off the 10-man pitching staff -- along with generally ineffective righty Esteban Yan -- in favor of hard-throwing longman Kevin Gregg.

"There were a lot of things we looked at," Scioscia said. "Having a left-hander does have importance, but our righties have been good against left-handers. And Kevin's been throwing the ball very well lately."

Scioscia added that the fact that Santana had to go six innings in Sunday's game in Arlington that got the Angels homefield advantage for the ALDS would take away Santana's ability to go long in a game over the next few days. That helped turn the tables in favor of Gregg.

Christiansen gave up seven hits and one earned run in 3 2/3 innings over 12 appearances for the Angels since an early-September trade with the San Francisco Giants. Left-handers batted .280 against him in 68 games overall.

"It's disappointing, but I'm not going to let it get me down," Christiansen said. "I'll work with [pitching coach] Buddy [Black] a little and see what happens.

"My numbers haven't been that great this year against left-handers. I've been inconsistent. Maybe that was the deciding factor."

Other roster rumblings: Scioscia decided to go with three catchers, so starter Bengie Molina and backup Jose Molina were joined on the playoff roster by the seldom-used Josh Paul, who had 37 at-bats in 34 games this year.

Otherwise, there were few surprises. The infielders are first basemen Darin Erstad and Casey Kotchman, middle infielders Adam Kennedy, Orlando Cabrera and Maicer Izturis, third baseman Robb Quinlan, multi-purpose player Chone Figgins, outfielders Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson, Juan Rivera, Steve Finley and Jeff DaVanon and relievers Gregg, Santana, Scot Shields, Brendan Donnelly, Escobar and Francisco Rodriguez.

The Vlad Treatment? More and more down the stretch of the regular season, opposing teams started giving slugger Guerrero the proverbial "Barry Bonds Treatment," often electing to walk the defending AL MVP intentionally to face Anderson or Rivera or any other hitter deemed less dangerous.

The Angels used the same tactic with Bonds at times during the 2002 World Series and came out on top.

But Guerrero said on Monday that the team's recent offensive surge during a season-closing flourish that saw the Angels win 12 of their last 14 games might have the Yankees thinking twice about giving him free passes.

"I can't carry the team by myself," Guerrero said through an interpreter.

Guerrero, a notorious bad-pitch hitter, also shot down the notion that constantly being walked intentionally made him more impatient at the plate and liable to swing at so-called pitchers' pitches.

"I don't think I was anxious," Guerrero said. "I've always been a very aggressive hitter. When I make outs with pitches out of the strike zone, it's something I've done my whole career."

Rivera remembers 2002: Rivera has been one of the Angels' hottest hitters lately, with a .353 batting average (12-for-34), three doubles, two homers and nine RBIs over his last eight games.

The 27-year-old Venezuelan will likely start each game of this series in left field or at designated hitter, depending on the condition of regular left fielder Anderson's balky lower back.

Rivera is no stranger to starting in left field in an ALDS. In fact, he did it in 2002, when he was a member of the Yankees and they lost in four games in a big upset to the eventual World Series champion Angels.

"We knew the Angels were good, but we always had the mentality that we'd take care of these guys," Rivera said through an interpreter.

"But the things they did, the baserunning and making contact, that was something that was almost new against the Yankees in the playoffs."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.