Cishek embracing opportunity with Angels

April 5th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- In the days leading up to Opening Day, the Angels reshaped their bullpen with some late additions.

Veteran reliever , who has a career 2.81 ERA in 576 1/3 innings through his 12 big league seasons, was one of those late adds.

Yet, joining a team out west wasn’t in the original plans for the Cishek, who hoped to land with a team that held Spring Training in his native Florida in order to be with his family.

Cishek had a 3.52 ERA in 7 2/3 innings of Grapefruit League action with the Houston Astros.

He chose to test free agency after he was told he wasn’t going to make the Opening Day squad and after getting to spend Spring Training with his family, Cishek said the decision to join a team out west was easier.

“I got to stay home and sleep in my own bed for Spring Training, so when Houston said I wasn't going to make the team now, all doors were open,” he said. “When the Angels called, I was like, ‘Let's go.’”

In his first outing of the season, Cishek completed just one-third of an inning and allowed two runs in a 12-8 loss to the White Sox on Friday.

Cishek, a sidearm pitcher who uses a sinker and slider, doesn’t typically light up the radar gun compared to other hurlers in the league.

With the focus for a lot of pitchers in the current era on improving spring rate, Cishek has worked on locating his pitches and getting more break out of his slider.

“I'm not a spring chicken anymore,” Cishek said. “ I used to be able to bring it in a little bit more firm years ago. I hide the ball well, so that jumps on [hitters] a lot quicker because of my extension. It gets on them quicker,so [88-89 mph] will play to hitters harder anyways.”

The familiarity with Angels manager Joe Maddon has helped Cishek acclimate to the team on short notice. Cishek was with the Chicago Cubs when Maddon was manager, helping Cishek understand what role he can fit in in the Angels’ bullpen.

One moment during their shared time with the Cubs that has stuck with Cishek was an Opening Day game in 2018 against the Miami Marlins when he was brought in from the bullpen in the fourth inning.

“[It] completely took me by surprise,” he said. “ Just in my mind, that kind of triggered me to be ready, because you never know.”

Angels tidbits

• Two-way star Shohei Ohtani made history in his start on Sunday. During his first MLB start in which he hit and pitched in the same game, he became the first Angels pitcher since 1973 to bat for himself in an American League game.

• José Quintana and Griffin Canning were named the starting pitchers for the two-game series against Houston that starts on Monday. Quintana will start on Monday and Griffin Canning will get the nod on Tuesday, Maddon said.