Wilson doesn't hold grudge vs. Yankees
NEW YORK -- C.J. Wilson was dressing quickly to catch a team bus from Yankee Stadium back into Manhattan late Saturday afternoon.
"It's great to finally have a night off here," he said. "It's my favorite city in the country."
Hey, we're all adults here. That the Yankees didn't pursue Wilson in free agency last off-season was no big deal, right? He surely didn't take a chip on his shoulder to the mound when he pitched six solid innings in a 7-1 Angels' victory.
"I don't let emotional stuff get into it," he said.
See? After all, he ended up back in his native Southern California, and with a five-year deal worth $77.5 million, things worked out nicely. Still, players remember slights, or things they perceive as slights. It actually wasn't, but everyone comes at these things from a different angle.
Once the Yankees made a long-term commitment to C.C. Sabathia, general manager Brian Cashman was looking for shorter, smaller contracts, which he found in the trade for Michael Pineda and the one-year, $10-million signing of Hiroki Kuroda. So you see, C.J., it wasn't a slight at all. If you think about it long enough, it actually was a compliment, because they knew you'd fetch top dollar.
"Every GM has a different idea of how they should do it," Wilson said. "Everybody has different constraints. There's not one way to build a team. They obviously went after a couple of pitchers. Obviously, both those guys did really good last year. You can't hold a grudge forever. You move on. I'm here. I'm an Angel. That's it."
He was at his best on a beautiful Saturday afternoon when the Yankees had chance after chance against him, stranding seven runners in scoring position and scoring just once in his six innings.
"C.J. set a tone on the mound," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's evolved as a pitcher the last three or four years. He does have more things he can do than a lot of guys. He has stuff that's going to go into a righty, away from a righty. He can change speeds."
It's not just that Wilson made pitches to get out of those situations. It's that he showed the Yankees a little bit of everything. He got Mark Teixeira to ground out on a nice curveball with a runner on third in the first inning. He got Russell Martin on a four-seam fastball with runners on second and third in the fourth and Teixeira on another curve to end the fifth.
All in all, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. This is just his third season as a starting pitcher in the big leagues, but during his four years in Double A ball for the Rangers he polished a nice repertoire.
In those first days of his professional career, he learned to get by on grit because his fastball was nothing special. After undergoing Tommy John surgery, he returned with a 92-mph heater, which made all that offspeed stuff even more effective.
When he talked the Rangers into letting him try out for the rotation three springs ago, he quickly established himself as one of the game's best starters.
"He's got six pitches," Angels catcher Chris Iannetta said, "and he can break 'em out anytime. He goes right after guys and does it with different things."
Iannetta said Wilson throws everything with movement.
"It's unpredictable, even for me catching it," he said.
Wilson became the Angels "other" big offseason acquisition, agreeing to sign on the same day Albert Pujols became an Angel. Not only did the Angels add a 200-innings starter to a rotation that was already pretty decent, they took 200 away from the Rangers.
He has two of the three quality starters on the Angels' staff and got his first career victory over the Yankees on a day when he was in almost constant trouble.
"You just have to make your pitches," he said. "You have to be aware of what your plan is. You can't let the game speed you up and force you into decisions you don't want to make. That's my thing."
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.