Cory Rasmus (Russell County) hopes he stays in majors with Angels this time

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerJune 14, 2014 

ATLANTA -- It was an uphill battle for Cory Rasmus, beset by injuries early on, to finally make it to the majors last season.

Staying in the big leagues hasn't been easy either for the right-handed reliever.

After being traded from the Atlanta Braves to Los Angeles Angels last July, Rasmus has been up and down from Salt Lake City to Anaheim.

Maybe now, though, the shuttle is over.

The Columbus native picked up victories in his first two appearances after being recalled June 7 by the Angels and hopes to stick for good this time.

"He has a major league arm," manager Mike Scioscia said as the Angels opened a three-game interleague series against the Braves at Turner Field on Friday.

Of course, there is always room for refinement.

"He needs to control counts and have command of his secondary pitches to really be effective against hitters in a good role in the bullpen," Scioscia added. "From last year to this year, he's made great strides in that and hopefully he'll continue to do it because he has a terrific arm."

Rasmus pitched in 16 games for the Angels last season after getting into three with the Braves and went into the weekend with five games this year over two stints.

The 26-year-old has a 3-1 career record with 26 strikeouts in 28 1-3 innings, but has walked 15 and has a 5.34 ERA.

"I feel a lot more comfortable and confident in what I'm doing this year," Rasmus said. "It took a while to get comfortable again after my hard times with the shoulder and then you have to build from there.

"These are the best hitters in the world and there is a lot of pressure coming up even if you have your best stuff. I've been more calm this time and trusted myself a lot more. I feel good and I've made strides to be a better pitcher."

Cory, whose brother Colby is with the Toronto Blue Jays, is with his second major league team. But in this case, it was leaving the team he had grown up following.

"As a young kid, we always came to Atlanta to watch the Braves play," Cory said.

The Braves made him the 38th overall pick in the 2006 draft, but then traded him for veteran reliever Scott Downs after he had made just three appearances.

"They needed a lefty and they got a good one, so I can't say it was a bad trade for the Braves," Rasmus said. "But I never really thought I'd get traded at that time."

This weekend, though, he's back in Atlanta thanks to the nearly perfect timing of his recall.

Sunday is Father's Day and dad Tony is a former Angels draft choice who spent three years in the organization.

"I'll have plenty of people here for sure," Cory said.

As nice as the reunion was, though, he had to remain all business. His place in the Angels bullpen isn't secure.

"All I can do is go out there and perform the best I can each time," he said. "I'm pretty happy with the progress I've made, but at the same time I know there is a lot of work still to do."

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