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OC Register: Angels reliever Ty Buttrey searches for cause of recent struggles

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BOSTON — A string of rough outings sent Ty Buttrey into the video room, and he emerged with some answers.

“Sometimes this game catches you from left field,” Buttrey said before Friday’s game. “I think sometimes you get on these rolls and you don’t realize the bad habits you are creating.”

Buttrey said he realized he had changed his hand position recently. One of the reasons was he was trying to avoid tipping his pitches. He ended up holding his hands in an uncomfortable way, which threw off his timing.

Although he still allowed a run in his last outing, he said the previous two have felt much better than the previous stretch.

“I pride myself on getting on the mound, attacking the zone, getting ahead of guys, and finishing them off,” said Buttrey, who has a 3.59 ERA in 51 games. “I didn’t feel like I was doing that. One minute this game is easy, and the next you are scratching your head and ‘what just happened?’”

Buttrey’s season went sideways at a bad time.

The Angels had won four in a row and had a two-run lead in the eighth against the Baltimore Orioles, when he gave up two runs in a game the Angels would lose in 16 bullpen-burning innings.

He would allow seven runs over a span of three games, all of them losses in a season-turning 2-5 homestand against the Orioles and Detroit Tigers.

“It was kind of an eye-opening experience and a wakeup call for me,” Buttrey said. “It doesn’t matter if a team is 32-70. These guys are big-league hitters. If you take one little ounce of attention and focus off, they’ll capitalize on it.”

Buttrey has said the issue wasn’t fatigue, and there was no drop in velocity that would suggest he was tired. Buttrey thinks he just started “focusing on other parts of the game instead of attacking the strike zone” and it cost him.

He brought the new mindset into a series at the ballpark he once hoped would be his home. The Boston Red Sox drafted Buttrey and kept him in their farm system for six years before trading him to the Angels in the Ian Kinsler deal just before the deadline last July.

When he stepped on the field Friday at Fenway Park, he said it was the first time he’d been on the field since he signed.

Although he figured he would have been here wearing a Red Sox uniform, he also expressed no hard feelings.

“I would have liked to have been called up,” he said, “but (the trade) opened doors to a completely unbelievable opportunity, something I don’t think I’d have had the chance to do if I’d stayed with Boston.”


Andrew Heaney, who is on the injured list because of shoulder inflammation, has been cleared to return to the rotation Saturday. …

The Angels claimed left-hander Adalberto Mejia on waivers, bringing back the pitcher they designated for assignment after he pitched three innings in the 16-inning loss to the Orioles. Mejia is expected to join the 25-man roster in the next day or two. …

The Angels released catcher José Briceño to create a spot for Mejia on the 40-man roster. Briceño is out with a season-ending shoulder problem. …

Griffin Canning played catch for the second time since going on the injured list with elbow inflammation. Ausmus said Canning is close to being ready to throw a bullpen session. …

Terry Smith felt ill before Friday’s game, so he turned over radio play-by-play duties to José Mota. Smith is expected to return Saturday.


Angels (RHP Jaime Barría, 4-5, 6.36) at Red Sox (RHP Brian Johnson, 1-1, 6.88), 4:10 p.m., Fox Sports West

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