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Downs interested in being an Angel beyond '13


TEMPE, Ariz. -- Scott Downs wants to stay here a little longer. His representatives have expressed that to the Angels' front office, and the veteran lefty reliever is willing to negotiate a potential extension in-season.

So far, though, nothing. So Downs will head into 2013 with the uncertainty that comes with lingering free agency.

It's nothing he isn't used to blocking out, though.

"It comes from experience," said Downs, coming to the end of a three-year, $15 million contract he signed as a free agent in December 2010. "I've been a Minor League free agent, I've been released. A lot of those things you can't control. You can't control the business part of it. You can control what you do as a player to like an organization, show an organization that you want to pitch, that you want to be there. Everything else, it's up to them, and it's up to what you do out there."

In some ways, the Angels may not have a need for Downs past this coming season, with lefty Sean Burnett signed to a two-year deal this offseason and another southpaw, the young Nick Maronde, waiting in the wings.

But Downs has been the kind of guy any bullpen would covet.

Over the last six years, the last two of which have come with the Angels, the 36-year-old has ranked fifth among Major League relievers in ERA (2.30) and first in holds (134) while posting a 1.15 WHIP in 336 innings.

But he struggled uncharacteristically in the second half last year, posting an 8.62 ERA in 25 appearances after giving up only one earned run in 30 frames leading up to the All-Star break.

"I don't like looking back and making excuses," Downs said. "There were some issues early on when I got run over in [April], my ankle. It's the little knickknack things. Pitching with that caused some other little things. Your body will tell you when to slow down. So I think that might've been a way of my body saying, 'Hey, slow down, you're pushing me a little bit too hard.' It is what it is."

Downs feels totally healthy now and is excited for what another shutdown lefty can bring to a needy bullpen. He'll ease his way through spring, like he normally does, and wait to get in games so he's fresh for Opening Day.

And if the Angels want to talk about a contract after that, he's all ears.

"If they were to come to me tomorrow or in a month and say we want to talk about extending it, yeah, I'd listen to that. Who wouldn't?" Downs said. "But again, that's secondary to what's out there. The focus, for me, is winning. I've never been on a team that's gone to the playoffs, I've never been there. So my focus is that. That's why I want to be here, because of what we have in this room."

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