ANAHEIM -- When Matt Shoemaker was told by Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher that he'd made the Opening Day roster as they walked off the field at the end of the exhibition Freeway Series against the Dodgers, the young right-hander was as happy as he's been in his seven years of professional baseball.
When, after three relief appearances, Shoemaker was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on April 13, it was a blow, he said, but he took it in stride.
"I told myself I had to just keep pitching," he said Saturday. "No matter where you pitch, you've got to get better each day. I wanted to pitch well and give my team a chance to win."
There were mitigating circumstances to his departure. For one, the Angels had exhausted their bullpen, Shoemaker included, in consecutive extra-inning games against the Mets. And, although a starter who was serving as the long man, he hadn't built up past 50 pitches in the spring. The Angels usually build their starters to 90-100 pitches. If he was going to be the long man and/or the first rotation replacement, he needed to go deeper.
"There was some mention of that [build-up] when I went back to Salt Lake," Shoemaker said. "But what I knew was, if I did my job, and the Angels -- or anyone -- needed a starter, I'd get back up."
On May 13, after five starts for the Bees, the Angels called again.
On Sunday against the Rays, Shoemaker (1-1, 3.86) will make his second start in place of left-hander Hector Santiago in the Angels rotation, and the third of his Major League career.
He's coming off his first Major League victory on Tuesday at Philadelphia, when he allowed two earned runs on three hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out three.
Unlike that day, which was the first game of a series, Shoemaker has the benefit of watching Tyler Skaggs ,Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson work against the Rays in the first three games of the series. Plus, Shoemaker's been able to talk to his fellow Angels starters in the dugout while the Rays were batting.
"You see the videos and you read the scouting reports," Shoemaker, 27, said, "but when you get to see your guys work against a lineup, it's like a live scouting report or a live video.
"You're still going to pitch to your strengths, but you want to collect as much information as you can before going out there."
In facing the Phillies, he said, he relied heavily on feedback "from the guys who had pitched against that lineup before."
In his Major League debut, Shoemaker pitched five shutout innings, while striking out five, against Seattle on Sept. 20 in a no-decision. He was filling in for Weaver that day, and he joined Weaver as the only Angels pitchers to throw five shutout innings and strike out five in a debut.
Shoemaker has allowed just one earned run in 9 1/3 career innings at Angel Stadium.
Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.