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Good start has Mike Scioscia comparing Angels' bullpen to 2002 relief corps

April 8, 2010 |  6:13 pm

The Angels' 2002 bullpen, with closer Troy Percival, setup men Francisco Rodriguez and Brendan Donnelly, middle reliever Ben Weber and long relievers Scott Schoeneweis and Scot Shields, was dominant during the team's run to the World Series championship, often shutting down opponents from the fifth or sixth inning on.

So, it seemed a little premature Thursday afternoon for Manager Mike Scioscia to say that his 2010 relief corps, which combined for 10 scoreless innings and allowed five hits and struck out seven in the first three games against the Twins, "could be the deepest bullpen we've had from the start to the finish of a season."

Scioscia reminded the raised eyebrows among the press corp that his 2002 bullpen didn't really emerge as a force until the second half of the season, after Schoeneweis was moved from the rotation to the bullpen and Donnelly got hot. Donnelly had a 6.14 earned-run average in the first half of 2002 and a 1.49 ERA in the second half.

Plus, Rodriguez, then a 20-year-old phenom whose wicked fastball-slider combination made him virtually untouchable in the postseason, wasn't called up to the big leagues until mid-September.

The Angels opened this season with closer Brian Fuentes, who led the major leagues with 48 saves last season, hard-throwing setup man Fernando Rodney, Kevin Jepsen and Scot Shields, an effective middle man in Jason Bulger and a power-armed long reliever in Brian Stokes.

"In 2002, our bullpen got redefined as the season went along," Scioscia said. "You saw a power bullpen as we got into the playoffs, but this bullpen, from start to finish, we think we're going to have a good arm every night to get some important outs and hold leads at the end of the game."

-- Mike DiGiovanna