What, exactly, does it mean for Joe Blanton to be heading into the regular season on the heels of a Spring Training during which he posted a 2.37 ERA with zero walks in 19 innings?
"Nothing, really," the right-hander said.
The new Angels starter -- Blanton signed a two-year deal with Los Angeles in mid-December -- isn't buying into his Cactus League results as reason for optimism. The 32-year-old said he would feel the same way even if he posted a 5.00 ERA this spring.
"I go more off what my command is, how I feel physically and mechanically and how my pitches are working, stuff like that," Blanton said. "Not necessarily results."
Blanton's pitching coach, Mike Butcher, liked what he saw from the veteran hurler during the exhibition slate.
"I really liked what he did this spring," Butcher said. "He mixed all of his pitches in there, was a strike-thrower, worked quick, very efficient. We'll see a lot of that this season."
Blanton will take the hill at Great American Ball Park on Thursday against the Reds, a team against which he is 2-0 with a 4.26 ERA in five career outings. Cincinnati will counter with Bronson Arroyo, who had a stellar spring in his own right. The righty compiled a 3.13 ERA in five Cactus League outings spanning 23 frames.
Like Blanton, Arroyo was skeptical about his spring success translating over to the regular season.
"I had really great command, good movement on a lot of pitches," Arroyo said. "I was able to work on some stuff. This doesn't guarantee you anything, but this is as comfortable as I've ever felt on a big league field for an extended period of time. You can't really ask for more than that coming out of Spring Training."
Angels: Skipper at peace with daunting schedule
Mike Scioscia's club wasn't afforded the chance to ease into its regular-season schedule. The Angels are the first team since 2007 to begin a season facing three consecutive opponents who qualified for the playoffs the previous year.
"The schedule's the schedule," Scioscia said. "The game at hand is important. You're going to face a tough game every night, and it just so happens that we're facing some teams that were playoff teams last year. In my mind, it's neither here nor there. You have the challenge of that game."
Reds: Ludwick lands on disabled list
The Reds placed left fielder Ryan Ludwick on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday morning, when he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The club expects to be without its slugger until the All-Star break.
Cincinnati called upon Derrick Robinson to replace Ludwick. Robinson hit .300 in 22 Cactus League contests this spring.
"He had a real good spring for us," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Robinson. "He can help us in a lot of ways. He can pinch-run, pinch-hit, he's a switch-hitter, an outstanding outfielder and can give [Shin-Soo] Choo a breather in center some time. This guy is a true center fielder, a very good player and a very good outfielder. We need some speed."
In his career, Arroyo is 1-2 with a 4.72 ERA in six starts against the Angels.