Pitching reinforcements arrive for Halos
Bulger, Thompson have contracts purchased from Salt Lake
ANAHEIM -- Pitching reinforcements have arrived with the expansion of Major League rosters.Right-handed power arms Jason Bulger and Rich Thompson were thrilled to join the American League West-leading Angels on Saturday, their contracts having been selected from Triple-A Salt Lake. Another right-hander, Chris Resop, was moved to the 60-day DL. Bulger, 28, was 5-2 with 10 saves and a 3.69 ERA in 53 2/3 innings, striking out 81 while walking 25 hitters. An Atlanta native originally taken by Arizona with a first round Draft pick (No. 22 overall) in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Bulger has overcome a slight rotator cuff tear from last season and a serious outfield collision with fellow pitcher Jonathan Rouwenhorst in 2006 to regain command of his mid-90s fastball and slider. "When I think about all the countless hours and work the Angels training staff has put in with me," Bulger said, "it gives me a real good feeling to be here. I'm going to be prepared to do whatever they want." He said he sustained a concussion "with a brain bleed" in the batting practice incident with Rouwenhorst, and "it was a little scary at first," Bulger said. Also fully recovered after reconstructive facial surgery, Rouwenhorst has had a solid season (10-9, 4.87 ERA) as a starter for Salt Lake. Thompson, 23, hails from Hornsby, Australia, outside Sydney, and was a free-agent signing by the Angels in February 2002. Pitching for Class A Rancho Cucamonga (one game), Double-A Arkansas and Salt Lake this season, he's a combined 3-3 with one save and a 2.04 ERA, striking out 85 hitters while walking 20 in 75 innings. A batboy in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Thompson got a taste of the big time, pitching for Australia in the inaugural World Baseball Classic before the 2006 season. Like Bulger, Thompson gets his fastball into the mid-90s. He has a "straight over the top, 12-to-6 curveball" and a developing changeup that's become an effective third pitch. "This is not a bad team to join, is it?" Thompson said, grinning. "I'm very excited. I called the folks back home. I think it's a pretty exclusive club [Australians in the Majors]. I started the year in extended Spring Training with an elbow [ailment]. I pitched two innings at Rancho, went to Arkansas, and then to Salt Lake. "It's been a pleasant surprise. I worked very hard to get to where I could try to do this. It's always a good thing to get to the big leagues. "I know a lot of the young guys here. Howie [Kendrick] was my first roommate in Mesa. I'll just be ready, basically."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.