TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels closer Huston Street rents this really big oceanfront home in Sunset Beach, Calif. It's about 6,000 square feet and three stories tall, with a steam room in the shower, a spacious deck in the back and giant windows exposing immaculate views of the water.This offseason, for
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels closer Huston Street rents this really big oceanfront home in Sunset Beach, Calif. It's about 6,000 square feet and three stories tall, with a steam room in the shower, a spacious deck in the back and giant windows exposing immaculate views of the water.
This offseason, for basically six weeks leading up to Spring Training, Mike Morin lived there rent-free.
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Morin, hoping to reclaim a prominent role in the Angels' bullpen, is a Missouri guy, born and raised. He didn't visit his first beach until he was 17 years old, and even then, didn't really see what all the fuss was about. Then he woke up every morning in January to the sound of waves crashing.
"I get it now," Morin said. "I get why people like it there, especially for what we're trying to do. You just have to be able to detach yourself, even for a couple hours. You can't just be 24/7. It doesn't work. Not even in-season. You have to be able to detach. And it's hard. I struggled with that last year."
Morin starred as a rookie, with a 2.90 ERA in 60 appearances, and struggled as a sophomore, his ERA ballooning to 6.37 in 47 games. The 24-year-old right-hander believes he might have put too much pressure on himself, to become the Angels' seventh-inning reliever, to recover from an oblique injury that robbed him of a month and to pitch through a "continually uncomfortable" right elbow that was perpetually inflamed.
"I was trying so hard," Morin said. "I was trying so hard to feel well, I was trying so hard to do well, and I just wasn't getting results."
Morin traveled to Hawaii with his girlfriend in October and couldn't stop dwelling. He downloaded an app called "Calm" for meditation, and began to feel at ease. He practiced some hot yoga, which also helped. And then he moved into Street's home shortly after Christmas, because Street spends his offseasons in Austin and that big ole house basically goes unoccupied throughout the winter.
Said Morin: "It was just so special to me."
Street, entering his 12th season in the Major Leagues, has gone out of his way to mentor Morin, to help him recapture the spark he showed in that eye-opening 2014 season. His prevailing message, Morin said, is that "everything affects everything." How you sleep, how you eat, how you stretch, how you think creates a compound effect that either makes you better or worse. It's the foundation of Street's success.
"We need him to be good," Street said of Morin. "We need him to be a big part of our bullpen, we need him to have that big season. And I think he's poised to do it because of all the things he was talking about after last season. He made no excuses. He identified what he thought he did wrong in his process, and he's put together a regimen to kind of focus everything in. He's one of the most focused people I've ever been around, which is why I enjoy being around him."
Ask anybody on the Angels for a bounceback candidate, and almost everyone will single out Morin. He's got the makeup, the dynamic pitch -- a changeup -- and he's at the right age. He also maintained good peripherals in an otherwise forgettable 2015 season.
Morin struck out 10.4 batters per nine innings and walked just 2.3, both improvements from the prior year. His Fielding Independent Pitching score was 2.85, within the top 22 percent of relievers who compiled at least 30 innings. And his groundball-to-flyball ratio improved, from 0.84 to 0.64.
The Angels know they have an elite closer in Street and a premier setup man in Joe Smith, but every great bullpen has three go-to relievers.
They think Morin can be No. 3.
"I have no self-doubt, I don't have any negative thoughts," Morin said. "I know that what I have is good enough to compete at this level, because I've seen it. I've done it."
That confidence comes partly from a scenario Street constantly paints for Morin: Think about how you used to feel walking into the locker room at the University of North Carolina, when you just knew you were going to get it done.
"That is the idea that all the successful players have," Street said. "They all have the understanding of, 'I know, if I do what I do, I'm going to be good. It's going to happen.' And then it's that daily process of always getting better."
Morin is profoundly appreciative of everything Street has done for him, from buying him a suit to taking him out to dinner to dishing out advice to lending him his home. He knew Street was a wine connoisseur, so he researched the best bottle of wine in 2015 and placed an order.
It's a 2012 Peter Michael Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Au Paradis, with a suggested price of nearly $500. Street stopped by his Orange County mansion just before Spring Training to pick up a few things when someone knocked on the door to deliver the bottle. He was confused.
"That's for you," Morin told him.
"I think that moment, more than anything, is very indicative of who he is as a person," Street said of Morin. "I told him we're going to drink it together."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast.