Palmer playing numbers game right way

Palmer playing numbers game

OAKLAND -- Matt Palmer has worn uniform numbers such as 80 and 90 during his Major League Spring Training experience with the Giants and Angels the past two years.

Those are numbers usually assigned to guys who have little or no chance to make the team. It took Palmer six years in the Minors to finally earn a chance to play in the big leagues, and to wear better numbers on his back.

For the Giants last year, he wore No. 49 for three August starts, wrapping a pair of decent outings around one bad start. He wasn't asked to return in September, when the rosters expanded.

"I have a family and a degree in horticulture. It was getting close to thinking about a different future," said Palmer, who threw a bullpen session before Tuesday's game against the Athletics in preparation for his next start Friday night against the Royals. "I thought I would give it a year or two."

As it turns out, the Giants did him a favor by ending his season early. If he pitched in September, Palmer says he probably would not have gone to Venezuela to pitch and the Angels never would have seen him, or signed him.

It worked out for both parties. Palmer got another chance to pitch in the Majors and the Angels got a couple of good efforts from the 30-year-old even as the starting pitching seemed to be scattered to the four winds.

"It's awesome to see guys like Matt get the opportunity and do something with it," Angels left-hander Joe Saunders said.

Palmer felt he could pitch in the big leagues when he reached Double-A in 2006 and then earned a promotion to Triple-A the same year. He went from being a starter to being a closer and back to starting and had good numbers in both roles. He just wasn't in the Giants' plans.

"Even if that would have been it, I would not have been satisfied," Palmer said. "I did make it to the Majors, but it wasn't enough."

He signed with the Angels and went to Spring Training with them as a non-roster player. He didn't make the Opening Day roster but kept working and was eventually called up April 23 when Darren Oliver went on the disabled list. He was the fourth pitcher called up from Salt Lake.

"I'm definitely with a team I like," Palmer said. "These are great guys and an unbelievable organization."

Palmer became the first Angels pitcher to record wins in his first two starts in three years. He'll be looking for No. 3 on Friday.

"I can't complain about a thing," Palmer said. "Even if I was released today it's been great. I got here, and now that I am here I want to stay."

If his first two starts are any indication, it could become a lengthy stay.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.