TEMPE, Ariz. -- There aren't many three-pitch closers in the big leagues.
Jordan Walden wants to be a rarity in that sense.
For 2012, a season in which the Angels are counting on him to take the next big step in order for their bullpen to improve, Walden is planning on throwing more changeups to offset his slider and play up his fastball.
"It'll be something I really throw this year," said Walden, who used the changeup sparingly, and mostly early in counts, in his first full season last year.
Since closers are mostly in for just one inning, they usually only have one or two go-to pitches. But Walden believes that getting more comfortable with his No. 3 pitch will make the other two a lot more effective.
The 24-year-old right-hander doesn't use the traditional circle-change grip for his changeup, instead going with a three-finger grip to get that 10-15 mph difference from his upper-90s fastball.
"I've always had it," Walden said of the changeup. "I've just kind of wanted to master my fastball-slider. Now I'm kind of, 'All right, I need to go to my third pitch.'"
Walden finished the 2011 season with a 2.98 ERA and 32 saves, but he blew 10 chances and posted a 4.35 ERA in September. This offseason the Angels were rumored to be in talks with several free-agent closer types, but when the dust settled, only LaTroy Hawkins was added to the bullpen with guaranteed money.
"Honestly, I didn't even pay attention," Walden said of the rumors. "Not until people would tell me. But if nobody told me what was going on, I wouldn't have known. I was more focused on doing what I needed to do."