Weaver's absence felt in Angels' camp

Weaver's absence felt in Angels' camp

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A handful of new faces filtered in and out of the Angels' clubhouse at Tempe Diablo Stadium when pitchers and catchers reported Tuesday, but one familiar face was conspicuously absent: Jered Weaver.

For the last 11 years, Weaver has been a fixture at Angels camp, but he is currently in search of a new home. The 34-year-old right-hander's five-year, $85 million extension with the Halos expired at the end of last season and he remains a free agent, though he's recently been linked to the Padres.

The Angels have reportedly had no conversations with Weaver about a potential reunion, a sign that the organization is ready to part ways with its longtime veteran.

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"When someone has made the imprint that Jered made in our organization and accomplished so much, it's always strange and difficult to see guys move on," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Weav's worked hard this winter. Obviously we're pulling for him to continue to do what he loves to do and have any success that he can have."

A first-round Draft pick of the Angels in 2004, Weaver developed into a three-time All-Star, finishing in the top five in American League Cy Young Award voting for three consecutive years, from 2010 to 2012. But Weaver then began to see a precipitous drop in his velocity, followed by a decline in performance. In 2011, Weaver's fastball averaged 90 mph and touched 95 mph. By 2016, his fastball average had fallen to 84 mph and he did not top 87 mph.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Weaver recorded a career-worst 5.06 ERA over 178 innings last season. Many Angels are still adjusting to life without Weaver, who had become a respected voice for many players in the clubhouse.

"It's strange not having him here," slugger Albert Pujols said. "Great teammate, great leader. A guy that never complained. Take the ball every five days and go out there and give you his best. Sometimes he didn't have his best and he was still doing everything to help our ballclub to win. I just wish him good luck and all the best in wherever he goes."

Right-hander Garrett Richards said Weaver sent a group text to several teammates a few weeks ago saying that he had enjoyed playing with them.

"Just kind of that little heartfelt text," Richards said. "After that kind of went out, it kind of put into perspective that he wasn't coming back. We all thought there was still a chance that he would come back eventually. It's going to be weird. But I'm grateful for everything he's done for me up to this point. That's a guy that I'll obviously keep a relationship with in the future. I wish him the best, and I hope he gets a shot somewhere."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.