Angels acquire shortstop Ryan from Nats

Angels acquire shortstop Ryan from Nats

ANAHEIM -- Brendan Ryan has gone from the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate to an Angels club that suddenly needs help at shortstop, resides near his hometown and employs a general manager, Billy Eppler, whom he's quite fond of.

The Angels are playing the Cardinals, the team Ryan came up with. Then they go to Seattle, where Ryan spent the better part of three Major League seasons. And then, after that, they go to Dodger Stadium, the place Ryan loved as a kid. His wife and kids, the ones he hasn't seen since the end of Spring Training, will be in the stands on Tuesday night. His apartment in Los Angeles, the one he hasn't stepped into since the middle of February, will be waiting for him after the game.

"It just doesn't get better," Ryan said before making his debut in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 8-1 loss. "It really doesn't. I don't know why this luck has been bestowed upon me."

Ryan's luck is a product of the Angels' hardship.

They acquired Ryan from the Nats for a player to be named later or cash considerations on Tuesday, the day after it was revealed that their all-world defender, Andrelton Simmons, would require a surgical procedure on his left thumb that will probably keep him out for at least two months.

Ryan, with a .234/.295/.315 slash line across nine Major League seasons, is a premium defensive shortstop who has displayed versatility over the last couple of years and has been a favorite in every clubhouse he has ever stepped into, from St. Louis to Seattle to New York to Washington, D.C.

A right-handed hitter, Ryan will probably split time with switch-hitting utility infielder Cliff Pennington, who will also occasionally spell Johnny Giavotella at second base.

"Humbling," is what Ryan said of his move back to Southern California. "I don't know. I'm certainly thinking about how lucky and blessed I am at the moment to not only be back in the big leagues, but to be home. I just feel very blessed."

Simmons is the sixth player on the Angels' disabled list, along with starting pitcher Garrett Richards (likely to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery), starting pitcher Andrew Heaney (rehabbing to avoid Tommy John surgery), starting pitcher C.J. Wilson (out until at least mid-June with shoulder issues), closer Huston Street (dealing with an oblique strain for the last two weeks) and outfielder Craig Gentry (nursing a back injury).

If nothing else, Ryan can keep things light.

Within his first hour as an Angel, he was already breaking out his famous Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken impressions. He sheepishly bragged about throwing two scoreless innings with the Yankees last season and playfully chafed at an article that stated his new teammate, Pennington, was a better position-player pitcher.

Said Ryan: "I felt good about the barrels I found."

Ryan on new team

Pitcher is one of seven positions Ryan has played in the Major Leagues. Since the start of 2014, the 34-year-old has also seen time at third base, second base, first base and both outfield corners.

"I feel pretty comfy," Ryan said of moving around. "I've even got a catcher's glove in there just in case. I'm ready for anything."

Ryan signed a Minor League contract with the Nats in February and posted a .917 OPS in Spring Training. But he just barely missed out on cracking the Opening Day roster and instead spent four weeks in Triple-A Syracuse, batting .263/.305/.382 and moving all over their infield.

He called his time with the Nats "a strange situation" and left it at that.

Ryan found out about the trade on Monday night, stayed awake all night and napped on the plane.

"I made darn sure I didn't miss that flight," he said. "I'm pretty charged anyway. I don't need the coffee. I've got that stuff running through my veins."

Ryan arrived clean-shaven, missing the majestic mustache he rocked in his days with the Mariners and Yankees, and he started thinking about bringing it back. The Angels could use just about anything right now.

"I'll see if I can make it contagious in the area, too," Ryan said. "We need to get a winning streak going. I'm big on that and naked somersaults, so, I'll break myself in right away."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.