Thursday, September 27, 2012
Dan Haren focused on this season
By Ramona Shelburne
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- With the Los Angeles Angels two games back of the Oakland Athletics for the final wild-card spot and just six games left to play, right-hander Dan Haren is focused on pitching well in his final start next week, nothing more.
His status for next season, when the team must decide whether to pick up his $15.5 million option, is a topic for another day.
"Whatever is going to happen, I've made my feelings known," Haren said after the Angels' 9-4 loss to the Mariners on Thursday. "Of course, I want to come back. But that's not my decision. I'd like to redeem myself.
"I think my track record is good. I've been dealing with some things this year, I pitched better at the end, and we'll see how it goes. If I don't come back, I'll go somewhere else and help that team out."
Haren said he was annoyed this weekend after an MLB.com report in which "a source familiar with the team's thinking" intimated the Angels would cut ties with both Haren and right-hander Ervin Santana -- who has a $13 million option for next season -- and focus their efforts on re-signing free-agent right-hander Zack Greinke.
"Whatever source familiar with the Angels' thinking said it, I think it was probably dumb timing for them to say something," Haren said. "We have 10 days left, two weeks left. I think the last thing myself or Ervin are thinking about is our status for next year.
"We're focused on the task at hand. I thought it was really stupid timing for something like that to come out."
Haren and Santana have both had up-and-down seasons while dealing with a variety of injuries.
Santana is 9-12 with a 4.93 ERA. His record, however, is a bit misleading; the Angels didn't score in any of his first six starts this season. He is 5-3 with a 3.75 ERA in the second half.
Haren fell to 12-12 with a 4.32 ERA after giving up three runs in just 5 1/3 innings on Thursday. He also has pitched far better of late, winning four of his previous five starts before Thursday.
"In the beginning of the year, my velocity was down a little bit, and when I was trying to add velocity, I was leaving balls over the middle of the plate," Haren said.
"The last few months, I've kind of just backed off and accepted where I'm at. I've made better pitches. I'm around 88-90 (mph) now, but velocity has never really been my game.
"When I have a good game, no one talks about me throwing 89. When I lose, of course, they're going to talk about that. That's just the way it is."
Before this season, Haren had thrown more than 200 innings in seven consecutive seasons. He'll just miss that mark this year thanks to a stint on the disabled list -- the first of his career -- with a back injury in July.
Haren has gutted his way back from that injury, but manager Mike Scioscia still seems to be using him conservatively. On Thursday, he lifted Haren after just 80 pitches. It was the fifth straight game Scioscia has taken him out before he threw 100 pitches.
"Of course, I want to stay in there," Haren said. "But I understand the situation. The shortening of the games and stuff. I'm not going to complain about it. They've probably lost a little confidence in me going deep into games. That's probably more my fault than anybody else's."