ANAHEIM -- Relief pitcher Rich Thompson was reactivated by the Angels on Saturday, and while it was nice to rejoin his buddies in the bullpen, the big picture -- a brand-new family photo -- was more exhilarating for the man from Australia.
Thompson became a father for the first time on Monday when his wife, Ashley, gave birth to Richard William Thompson in Little Rock, Ark. The couple met while Thompson was toiling for the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, and Thompson was tuning up for a return to Anaheim when the big day arrived.
"It was an amazing experience, the greatest feeling you can have," Thompson said. "Now it's back to work."
A fringe member of the Angels' bullpen for the past four seasons with a total of 28 appearances, Thompson, 26, has made major strides this season in harnessing his repertoire featuring a mid-90s fastball along with a cutter and curveball. Refinement of the cutter, under the tutelage of pitching coach Mike Butcher, has had much to do with his improvement. Thompson owns a 1.86 ERA in 9 2/3 innings, allowing a total of nine baserunners while striking out nine hitters.
"He's made slight mechanical adjustments and found a delivery he's comfortable with," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He has a power arm with a big curveball that's not a good command pitch for him. The cutter helps him get back into the zone and helps him against lefties. He's more consistent now with it."
Thompson assumes the spot on the 25-man roster that had been held by closer Brian Fuentes before he was shipped on Friday to the Twins for a player to be named.