Frieri loses Angels closer job; Smith takes over

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Ernesto Frieri has lost his job as Los Angeles Angels closer - at least for a while.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia says setup man Joe Smith will step into the stopper role until Frieri works out his problems beginning Friday night when the Angels play the New York Yankees.

''We want to get Ernie off of that treadmill and let him get an inning or two where he can try to make some adjustments,'' Scioscia said. ''Historically, Ernie has responded well to this. We need him, and I think this is the best route to take to get to the final solution we want.''

The move comes two days after Frieri allowed four runs and three hits while failing to protect a lead for the Angels in a loss at Washington. It was his second blown save this season in four chances.

Frieri is 0-2 with a 9.35 ERA in 10 appearances this year. He's allowed five home runs, a problem that plagued him last season when he was tagged for 11 homers and briefly lost the closer job.

Scioscia said Frieri will be used at less stressful times, not in setup situations. The eighth-inning role will be filled by matchups.

''To put him in setup role right now would defeat the purpose, because you're going to put him in a high-leverage situation,'' Scioscia said. ''If you're ready for the eighth inning, you're ready for the ninth.''

''Mechanically he's fine,'' Scioscia said. ''At times he's overthrowing, and when he does, he's missing some spots. He's not a fine control guy, but he definitely knows what area he wants to throw the ball, and he's usually pretty good at getting it there.''

Smith signed a $15.75 million, three-year contract with the Angels this winter. In his eighth season, the 30-year-old right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA, but 10 of his 11 appearances have been scoreless. He has three career saves in 450 games with the Mets, Indians and Angels.

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