For Grilli, winning more important than role in 'pen

Heading to free agency, Angels reliever seeking first World Series ring

For Grilli, winning more important than role in 'pen

ANAHEIM -- Jason Grilli, a free agent at season's end, is at best the fourth-most-prominent member of the Angels' bullpen, and everyone in front of him in the pecking order -- closer Huston Street, setup man Joe Smith and seventh-inning guy Kevin Jepsen -- is expected back next season.

At this point, though, a chance to be on a winner is more important than a bullpen role for the 37-year-old right-hander.

"Absolutely," Grilli said. "Every relief pitcher wants to be the guy at the end of the game. Every single one of us. Will that happen again for me? Maybe, maybe not. I don't know. But right now, I'm just trying to be the best closer I can when the ball is given to me. And I can rest assured that if I never closed again, I got my chance to do it, and I did it really well. Nobody can take that away from me."

  Date Time Matchup/Result Network
Gm 1 Oct. 2   KC 3, LAA 2 video
Gm 2 Oct. 3   KC 4, LAA 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 5   KC 8, LAA 3 video

Grilli was the closer for a dynamic Pirates bullpen in 2013, when he made his first trip to the All-Star Game, posted a 2.70 ERA and converted 33 of 35 save chances. He struggled at the onset of 2014, with a 4.87 ERA in his first 22 appearances, and came to the Angels in the one-for-one, change-of-scenery deal that sent former closer Ernesto Frieri to Pittsburgh on June 27.

Since then, Frieri has been released and Grilli turned his season around while mostly pitching the sixth inning, finishing the year with a 3.48 ERA, a 3.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 1.16 WHIP with the Angels.

Soon enough, free agency will loom once again for the journeyman.

"I don't know where it will lead," Grilli said. "I can't even think that far ahead right now, because my focus is on the big prize. I don't have a World Series championship ring. There's plenty of time to think about those things in the offseason. I've done everything, from the front to the middle to the back. I think that's pretty valuable in itself."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.