Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. — Jerome Williams was on the fence about playing winter ball last year until he walked five batters in 4 1/3 innings Sept. 13 at Oakland, uncharacteristic for a control pitcher who had 10 walks in the other 39 2/3 innings he threw for the Angels last season.“My mind was somewhere else that game,” said Williams, the favorite this spring to win the fifth spot in what should be one of baseball’s best rotations. “I wanted to go somewhere to work on my focus, on staying within myself the whole game.”Hello, Venezuela.Williams, a first-round pick whose career has been pocked by weight problems and shoulder injuries, has played for four big league organizations, in Taiwan, Mexico and Puerto Rico, and in two independent leagues.But he had never experienced a November in Venezuela, where the 30-year-old right-hander made six starts for the Magallanes Navegantes, who are based in Valencia, the country’s third-largest city.“The stadium is like a triple-A park — it holds about 25,000 fans — but it sounds like 60,000 because there’s so much noise, so much commotion,” Williams said. “There’s music, drums, horns. It’s so loud that sometimes the catcher would come to the mound… Read full this story
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