Angels Prospect Interview: Jason Bulger

We caught up with the Angels' newest bullpen candidate Jason Bulger after a trade brought him over from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Almost three years off of elbow surgery, the former first round pick is looking to break camp with the big-league squad of his new organization.

How are you getting settled in to Angels' camp?

Jason Bulger: It was a pretty easy transition. I think it would have been a lot tougher if the Angels had camp out in Florida. The guys are easy guys to get along with and the same thing with the coaching staff. The coaching staff has been great and everyone's been friendly.

The trade came at a weird time as camp was getting ramped up. Has it done anything to change your throwing program?

No, it really hasn't done anything. It's kind of a double-edged sword. It's early enough in camp that they really weren't going to tweak anything, but it's also kind of a negative point because I only had two days before games started, so they really didn't have a chance to see me throw live. They said they've seen some tapes of me, but other than the Triple-A coach, nobody's really seen me throw.

How is your arm feeling?

I feel great now. I haven't had any problems with my elbow, knock on wood. [The surgery] was actually a blessing in disguise. I really felt like I came back throwing better after the surgery than I was before.

Have you gotten any readings on your velocity this spring?

I honestly haven't seen a single fastball reading – even in my first outing with the Angels. I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand pretty good. That's all I'm really worried about. If I'm feeling okay on the mound, then I know the velocity will be there and everything else will take care of itself.

Before the trade, what were your goals for yourself coming into the year, and have those changed at all now that you've moved into the Angels' organization?

They haven't changed. The number one goal was to start the season in the big leagues, and I thought I had a pretty good opportunity to do that with the Diamondbacks. I still think I have a pretty good chance with the Angels. I think it's going to be a little bit tougher road because there's really not much wiggle-room there in the bullpen, but I think the opportunity is still there. That was my main goal, and the other is always just to stay healthy. I feel like if I can stay healthy through a full season, physically and mentally, I'm going to put up solid numbers. I'll have a season I can look back and say I'm proud of.

Has the team talked with you about their expectations for you this season?

They haven't said a word to me about it. I think they're just, right now, sitting back and watching me and really just gathering information on me. In terms of where I'm going to be, or what my role is going to be, they haven't said anything to me. I think it's kind of a good thing like that, because I can go in and I don't have to worry about who I'm competing with or anything like that. I can go out and focus on baseball and getting outs on the mound.

Last year was the second year after your elbow surgery. A number of guys talk about needing that second year to get back to full strength on the mound. Was that the case for you?

I think it depends for everybody. I think last year it was more a learning process then how I felt. The season before, about the All-Star break is about when I really started feeling healthy and back to pre-surgery form. I was feeling really good with velocity and control really came back at that point. I think I struggled at the beginning of this past season because it was a new level and every level you go up, it's a learning process. It's something I had to do. Everybody takes their lumps, and I sure took mine at the beginning of the season, but I figured I'd learn from it and that's why I had more success towards the end.

You were traded straight-up for another highly regarded prospect. While I'm sure it's hard to leave the organization that drafted you, how did it feel to know another organization thought enough of you to pull the trigger on a trade?

Initially, I didn't know what to think, but after I kind of settled down for a couple of minutes, I realized I was going to a great opportunity. I mean, this team competed for the World Series the last couple of years, and they're going to continue to. I mean, you look at that team they've got out there, and it's really just a solid team up and down. Between the offense, the defense and the pitching, it's as solid a team as any major league team out there. You think about that and the opportunity of playing in the World Series, and you get excited. And that's exactly what I started to feel – that I'm going to have an opportunity if everything goes well to be pitching in a World Series game. This team, right now, has the potential of winning the World Series, and I don't know if the Diamondbacks have that solid of a team. To go from a team that's on the borderline to a team that's pretty close to dominating a league, that's a good feeling.

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