Downs brings leadership, versatility

Downs brings leadership, versatility

Downs brings leadership, versatility
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Scott Downs is "here to pitch," as he puts it. The opportunity to assume a broader role, involving leadership with an impressive cast of young Angels relievers, is waiting down the road. There's plenty of time for that to evolve.

"There are a lot of good arms here," said Downs, the former Blue Jays lockdown reliever acquired as a free agent along with fellow left-hander Hisanori Takahashi to bring balance to the Angels' bullpen. "All I've been doing so far is sitting back and watching.

"I've talked to [Kevin] Jepsen, [Jordan] Walden. If they have any questions for me, I'm here. They know what they have to do to be prepared. Myself and Taki, we know what we have to do. We're going to have a lot of fun."

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Downs, a starter in his youth, has abilities beyond the traditional southpaw specialist's role. So does Takahashi, who can stretch out and start if necessary.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia has leaned on veterans such as Scot Shields and Darren Oliver in recent years to provide soothing words and thoughts for talented young relievers trying to find their way.

"There will be stability there from veterans like Scott Downs and Takahashi," Scioscia said. "Darren Oliver has a versatility that's more on the lines of Takahashi. That veteran leadership will be very important."

Downs allowed one hit during a scoreless inning in his Angels debut on Monday against the Athletics, who brought Hideki Matsui along. The Angels' 2010 designated hitter and left fielder renewed acquaintances with old buddies such as Torii Hunter.

Soon, as American League West rivals, Matsui and Downs will resume the competition they experienced in the AL East when Matsui wore Yankees pinstripes and Downs was a Blue Jay.