Shoemaker provides length in bullpen

Shoemaker provides length in bullpen

ANAHEIM -- Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher grabbed Matt Shoemaker as he was making his way into the clubhouse after Saturday's Freeway Series game against the Dodgers to tell him he made the team.

"I didn't cry, but I wanted to," Shoemaker said. "Adrenaline took over. I shook his hand and I started shaking. It's a lifetime dream to be here, and it's just the ultimate excitement factor."

Shoemaker, 27, had gone from not being invited to Spring Training in 2013 to making his first Opening Day roster in 2014, a result of Dane De La Rosa and Sean Burnett still rehabbing and Shoemaker's impressive spring (four runs, one walk, 12 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings).

Then, in Tuesday's 8-3 loss to the Mariners, the right-hander relieved C.J. Wilson and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and striking out two.

Shoemaker has spent the past two years in Triple-A Salt Lake's starting rotation, minus the five scoreless innings he pitched in a start with the Angels last year. The prevailing thought is that Shoemaker will be the first reliever to be sent down, probably when De La Rosa makes his expected return on April 11.

But he provides something no other arm in the Angels' bullpen does -- length.

The rotation has two pitchers with historically high walk rates, in Wilson and Hector Santiago, and a left-hander who's only 22 years old (Tyler Skaggs). So, the Angels may need a reliever to pick up multiple innings, like Shoemaker did in his 2014 debut.

If he keeps it up, Shoemaker could make this an extended stay.

"I think that's the role you can see him in," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He can come in and I think hold a lead in the middle innings or give you a little bit of length."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.