Morin savoring return to Major League stage

Recently shuttling back and forth from Minors, Angels righty looking to establish consistency

Morin savoring return to Major League stage

NEW YORK -- Mike Morin spent seven days in the Minor Leagues, pitching only once, until he was called back up to the Angels on Tuesday, provided with yet another opportunity to live up to the high expectations the organization continually has for him.

"You just kind of realize how special everything is here," Morin said from Yankee Stadium's visiting clubhouse. "Not like I've ever taken it for granted, but when it's taken away from you, you just kind of start thinking, and you truly appreciate how special the group of guys is in here, and how special the big leagues are in general."

Morin -- with a devastating fastball-changeup combination, and a slider that has developed into a plus pitch -- excelled as a 23-year-old rookie in 2014, sporting a 2.90 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP and a 2.84 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 60 appearances.

But ever since then his dominance has been confined to spurts.

Morin's nice play off the mound

Morin, now 25, finished July of 2015 with a 7.43 ERA, then spent the entire month of August in Triple-A Salt Lake. He returned when rosters expanded in September and immediately gave up only one run over an 11-inning stretch, striking out 17 batters and allowing five baserunners.

Morin entered the 2016 season once again looking to lock down the seventh-inning role in the Angels' bullpen, and he was seemingly on his way for about a four-week stretch, throwing 10 1/3 scoreless innings from April 17-May 11. But he gave up 10 runs in 6 2/3 innings thereafter, ballooning his ERA to 5.48, and went right back to Triple-A.

"There was three weeks where I did well, and there was three weeks where I didn't do well," Morin said. "I didn't really think too much about the bad stuff. I was watching some video of when things were going well. I don't think it does too good to dwell on why I wasn't doing well. But part of it was just an untimely pitch here, and an untimely pitch there."

Morin specified a 1-2 changeup to Dodgers outfielder Trayce Thompson on May 16 and a 2-1 changeup to Astros shortstop Carlos Correa on May 29, both of which stayed up and resulted in home runs. Besides that, Morin believes he has actually pitched quite well.

Correa's go-ahead blast

As a short-inning reliever, it doesn't take much to bloat an ERA.

"That's the one thing that is so impressive about some of these guys in the locker room who have been able to do so well for so long -- the consistency," Morin said. "That's what it is here. It's about being consistent. Everyone here has had success, whether it's been a week or 10 years in a row, being successful. I am a Major League pitcher when I'm doing this, when I did it for three weeks. Just go out there and redo it."

Worth noting

Tim Lincecum has given up seven runs (five earned) in 10 innings through his first two starts for Triple-A Salt Lake, two outings that began shaky and saw him settle down late. Angels manager Mike Scioscia has been impressed by Lincecum, who will make one more Triple-A start on Sunday, saying: "If he can maintain what he showed after he found it, after the first inning, we're going to be very excited."

Lincecum to make one more rehab start

• The Angels optioned rookie lefty reliever Greg Mahle after Tuesday's 12-6 loss to the Yankees. Mahle gave up two home runs in that game and now has a 5.40 ERA. Said Scioscia: "He's really a stuff-and-funky guy against lefties, and he had trouble bringing that into a game. He's not going to be a fine command guy. He works on action with his fastball, relies on that, and really he's just had trouble finding consistency."

• Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons (left thumb surgery) is still having some trouble fielding while wearing a splint inside his glove, Scioscia said. Simmons started back-to-back games at shortstop for Class A Advanced Inland Empire on Monday and Tuesday, then got Wednesday off. He'll play again Thursday and Friday, and Scioscia said "it's a possibility" to have him available the ensuing weekend.

Tyler Skaggs, coming off August 2014 Tommy John surgery, threw five innings in an extended spring game in Arizona on Wednesday, his third game action at the Angels' Spring Training site over the last couple of weeks. Scioscia said Skaggs will throw once more at extended spring, then move back to Triple-A. Skaggs began the year by making two starts for Triple-A Salt Lake, then was shut down.

C.J. Cron got the day off Wednesday, despite going 9-for-28 over his last nine games, because Scioscia wanted to give right-handed-hitting corner infielder Jefry Marte a start. Marte played first base, batting fifth. It was Marte's fourth start with the Angels this year. The 24-year-old entered 6-for-18 with four extra-base hits.

Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.