The Yankees, mindful of baseball’s new luxury-tax threshold, made only a tepid effort to sign Wilson.
"You can use it as a chip on your shoulder to get you through a little bit," Wilson said after pitching six strong innings in the Los Angeles Angels’ 7-1 win at Yankee Stadium. "I think it’s more of an aftertaste than like before, because you really focus on getting the hitters out. You’re not trying to strike out the front office."
ESPNNewYork’s Andrew Marchand reported in December that Wilson’s agent requested a trip to meet with the Yankees in New York and was rebuffed. A week later at baseball’s winter meetings, Wilson agreed to a five-year, $77.5 million deal with the Angels, picking his hometown team over the Florida Marlins, who made a more lucrative offer.
Before Saturday, Wilson had made 21 career appearances, four of them starts, without a victory over the Yankees. He was 0-3 with three saves and a 3.80 ERA vs. New York.
"This place, Fenway, it’s fan-centric. It’s a totally different experience than playing in Surprize, Arizona for spring training or Tempe or whatever," Wilson said. “You’ve got to find a way to funnel that and make it work for you. Today I finally got a win."
Wilson thus far has been the Angels’ stopper in a disappointing first eight games. The Angels are 3-5 and Wilson (2-0, 1.38 ERA) has two of their three quality starts.
"He’s a competitor and, when he gets in trouble, he doesn’t let things bother him," Angels slugger Albert Pujols said.
The Angels spent $318 million to sign Wilson and Pujols in a historic shopping spree at the winter meetings. Pujols had an RBI double off Phil Hughes Saturday and went 2-for-4 to improve his early-season average to .250.