Santana: Halos' rotation 'better than anyone'

Santana: Halos' rotation 'better than anyone'

Santana: Halos' rotation 'better than anyone'
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Ervin Santana has heard and read all the hype about the Phillies' rotation. But he doesn't think his Angels should accept a back seat to anyone.

"We're better than anyone to me," Santana said. Philadelphia? "It doesn't matter. They're not perfect. They have more experience, OK. But sometimes you don't have the energy to win. Not every single game you're going to feel good.

"We know how to pitch. I'm always confident. If you're not confident, you're in trouble. Big trouble."

The Phillies have a pair of aces in Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. The Angels counter with Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. The Phillies have Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton. The Angels, three through five, offer Santana, Joel Pineiro and Scott Kazmir.

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Fans in other cities will argue for their rotations. Certainly the Giants, with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito, own bragging rights in the afterglow of their brilliant World Series triumph.

Santana likes his group because of its combination of experience and relative youth. Pineiro is 32, Haren 30. Weaver and Santana are 28, Kazmir is 27.

They have combined for 953 Major League starts and 394 victories. Haren is a three-time All-Star, Kazmir was an All-Star twice. Weaver and Santana also have made All-Star teams.

Santana is coming off a career-best 17 victories and has had a pair of 16-win seasons. Weaver and Kazmir have been strikeout kings. Haren has thrown at least 216 innings six straight seasons and won 14 or more games five years in a row. Pineiro has had seasons with 16, 15 and 14 wins.

"To me, always, every year, it is our responsibility to lead the club," Santana said. "We're the ones who have the ball. The game doesn't start if we don't throw the ball.

"As part of a rotation, we just do the best we can to try to minimize damage and put the team on a pace to win. That's our goal."

Santana, in his second Cactus League outing, shut out the Rangers through three innings on Tuesday. He allowed a ground-ball single and two walks, striking out two men.

"Everything was good," Santana said. "Location, slider, fastball. I got the ball down when I wanted. Mixed it up."

Facing former batterymate Mike Napoli, now catching for Texas, in the first inning on Tuesday with runners at the corners and one out, Santana threw a 2-2 fastball past him. Mitch Moreland then grounded out.

"High heat," Santana said, grinning. "For right now, I'm good, where I want to be. There's still a long way to go. You never stop learning."

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