New dad Bulger expects a rebound season

New dad Bulger expects a rebound season

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jan. 11, 2011, was the happiest day of Jason Bulger's life. Every day since wife Janice presented him with baby Brenden has been filled with magic.

"It's the biggest joy in my life, without a doubt," Bulger said on Tuesday as he settled into Angels camp, looking to reclaim his place as a durable reliever. "I've had a lot of fun on the mound and in baseball, but it doesn't compare with having a baby. It's a life-changer."

Bulger, on the professional side, feels reborn after a season spent struggling with shoulder issues limiting him to 25 appearances and a 4.88 ERA. The 6-foot-4 right-hander with the booming fastball and soft voice was a pillar in 2009, appearing in 64 games with a 6-1 record and 3.56 ERA.

"I'm full go," Bulger said. "I've been [throwing] off the mound, letting it go. I'm not having any problems. I'm familiar with rotator cuff pain -- I went through that four years ago. Rest is the biggest thing. I hurt the shoulder at the end of May, came back to pitch the last month and then took a month off. I did my exercises and started throwing again, and I'm feeling great.

"I think I can do even better than [2009]. Towards the end of that season, I was starting to pitch to my potential. There's a lot of competition here, a lot of great arms. But I feel good if I can pitch to my ability."