"Just pitch well or go home," the 39-year-old right-hander said Wednesday morning. "One of the two."
Through the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Angels would have to pay Isringhausen an extra $100,000 to keep him on their roster past Thursday. The right-hander seemed to get through Day 1 fine, hurling a clean inning against the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark on Wednesday, and is scheduled to pitch at home against the Royals on Thursday in hopes of bouncing back from a few rough patches.
The way he looks at it, this is his last chance to prove he belongs in the Angels' bullpen to start the season.
If he doesn't, Isringhausen -- a veteran of 15 years who has undergone three Tommy John surgeries and ranks third among active pitchers with 300 career saves -- won't be going down to the Minor Leagues.
"I'll just go home and be with my girls," he said.
"I just have to go out there today and pitch the way I'm capable of pitching. And if I don't today and tomorrow, I'll go home. I understand the concept. That's just how it is."
The first outing seemed to go well for Isringhausen, who got a strikeout, a groundout and a lineout in a seventh inning in which manager Mike Scioscia said his stuff "looked much better."
"I think he was in his delivery better," Scioscia added, "and it gave him much better arm speed, he was able to get the ball out in front more, he spun it well and had good stuff today."
Isringhausen, who was brought in on a Minor League contract at the start of camp but still hasn't been added to the 40-man roster, hadn't particularly impressed this spring, giving up four runs in 3 2/3 Cactus League innings heading into Wednesday. In Sunday's ninth inning, he gave up a walk, a hit batsman and a game-tying two-run double while recording only two outs.
Isringhausen had been battling some mechanics issues.
"When my mechanics are bad, it feels bad," he said. "But when my mechanics feel good, it feels good. First couple times it felt good, last couple times it felt bad. I started off good, and in my mind, the outings have regressed a little bit. I understand what I need to do the next couple days."
The Angels technically have three spots open in their bullpen, with Isringhausen, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor Bell, Francisco Rodriguez and Rich Thompson (out of options) vying for them. Bobby Cassevah (slight tear in labrum) and Michael Kohn (forearm strain) are expected to start the season on the disabled list.
Isringhausen is just fine with going home and calling it a career this week.
But his preference is to help the Angels.
"I want to, but it's not do or die if I don't," Isringhausen said. "But I came here to pitch for this team. I want to help them win, I want to be on a winning team, and that's why I'm here."