ANAHEIM -- When Matt Shoemaker was told by Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher that he'd made the Opening Day roster as they walked off the field at the end of the exhibition Freeway Series against the Dodgers, the young right-hander was as happy as he's been in his seven years of professional baseball.
When, after three relief appearances, Shoemaker was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on April 13, it was a blow, he said, but he took it in stride.
"I told myself I had to just keep pitching," he said Saturday. "No matter where you pitch, you've got to get better each day. I wanted to pitch well and give my team a chance to win."
There were mitigating circumstances to his departure. For one, the Angels had exhausted their bullpen, Shoemaker included, in consecutive extra-inning games against the Mets. And, although a starter who was serving as the long man, he hadn't built up past 50 pitches in the spring. The Angels usually build their starters to 90-100 pitches. If he was going to be the long man and/or the first rotation replacement, he needed to go deeper.
"There was some mention of that [build-up] when I went back to Salt Lake," Shoemaker said. "But what I knew was, if I did my job, and the Angels -- or anyone -- needed a starter, I'd get back up."
On May 13, after five starts for the Bees, the Angels called again.
On Sunday against the Rays, Shoemaker (1-1, 3.86) will make his second start in place of left-hander Hector Santiago in the Angels rotation, and the third of his Major League career.
He's coming off his first Major League victory on Tuesday at Philadelphia, when he allowed two earned runs on three hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out three.
Unlike that day, which was the first game of a series, Shoemaker has the benefit of watching Tyler Skaggs ,Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson work against the Rays in the first three games of the series. Plus, Shoemaker's been able to talk to his fellow Angels starters in the dugout while the Rays were batting.
"You see the videos and you read the scouting reports," Shoemaker, 27, said, "but when you get to see your guys work against a lineup, it's like a live scouting report or a live video.
"You're still going to pitch to your strengths, but you want to collect as much information as you can before going out there."
In facing the Phillies, he said, he relied heavily on feedback "from the guys who had pitched against that lineup before."
In his Major League debut, Shoemaker pitched five shutout innings, while striking out five, against Seattle on Sept. 20 in a no-decision. He was filling in for Weaver that day, and he joined Weaver as the only Angels pitchers to throw five shutout innings and strike out five in a debut.
Shoemaker has allowed just one earned run in 9 1/3 career innings at Angel Stadium.
Morin making good first impression with Angels
ANAHEIM -- Rookie right-hander Mike Morin, 23, has begun his Angels career with eight scoreless appearances, allowing only six baserunners (five hits, one walk) in 8 2/3 innings while striking out seven.
"With a young guy, you kind of always just want to get his feet wet," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Mike has responded really well to any situation he's been in.
"He's shown he's going to throw strikes, and he has the ability to change speeds."
With right fielder Kole Calhoun having started his rehab Friday with two hits for Triple-A Salt Lake, third baseman David Freese beginning his rehab games Saturday and left fielder Josh Hamilton on target to start his at the end of next week, Scioscia is looking forward to "getting back to that core group we came out of Spring Training with. We didn't have them together for long."
Of Hamilton, Scioscia said: "He looks great in BP. I can't wait for him to see live pitching a week from now in rehab games."
Asked if Collin Cowgill's performance in the past month with Calhoun and Hamilton out might mean Hamilton will DH more when he returns, the manager said: "Josh will DH some to keep him fresh and keep his bat in the lineup. Collin Cowgill's been playing great and has earned playing time, no doubt about that."
Freese hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat for Salt Lake at Reno.
Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.