Frieri feeds off ninth-inning pressure
OAKLAND -- Ernesto Frieri has appeared in the Angels' last three save chances, and though Mike Scioscia said Friday that there will still be nights when he turns to sidearmer Joe Smith in the ninth, it looks like Frieri has at least re-established himself as the team's primary closer.
"All I know is when I'm pitching the ninth, I pitch like a closer," Frieri said in Spanish. "I try to do the best I can to save the game. The final decision is up to the manager. I can't tell him I want to do it. I do want to [pitch the ninth]. But I have to show it, and I think more and more he's regaining that confidence in me."
Scioscia has always said his preference is for Frieri to get back to the point where he can close full time, so he has more flexibility with how to use Smith.
Lately, Frieri is making that a lot easier on him.
Since getting demoted after a ninth-inning meltdown in Washington D.C. on April 23, the 28-year-old right-hander has given up just two runs in 14 1/3 innings, striking out 16 batters, allowing eight baserunners and going 6-for-6 in save chances.
Frieri is among those who feels his intensity level is just different in the ninth.
"And I just like it better," he added. "I like to feel that adrenaline. You have to pitch, and you have to do your job no matter the situation. But it's not the same. It's not the same when you pitch in the eighth or the seventh as opposed to the ninth. That adrenaline is just different. Everyone experiences it different, but the ninth inning is the one for me. It's the one I like. I feel much better there. It brings the best out of me, I think."