TEMPE, Ariz. -- There aren't many three-pitch closers in the big leagues.
Jordan Walden wants to be a rarity in that sense.
For 2012, a season in which the Angels are counting on him to take the next big step in order for their bullpen to improve, Walden is planning on throwing more changeups to offset his slider and play up his fastball.
"It'll be something I really throw this year," said Walden, who used the changeup sparingly, and mostly early in counts, in his first full season last year.
Since closers are mostly in for just one inning, they usually only have one or two go-to pitches. But Walden believes that getting more comfortable with his No. 3 pitch will make the other two a lot more effective.
The 24-year-old right-hander doesn't use the traditional circle-change grip for his changeup, instead going with a three-finger grip to get that 10-15 mph difference from his upper-90s fastball.
"I've always had it," Walden said of the changeup. "I've just kind of wanted to master my fastball-slider. Now I'm kind of, 'All right, I need to go to my third pitch.'"
Walden finished the 2011 season with a 2.98 ERA and 32 saves, but he blew 10 chances and posted a 4.35 ERA in September. This offseason the Angels were rumored to be in talks with several free-agent closer types, but when the dust settled, only LaTroy Hawkins was added to the bullpen with guaranteed money.
"Honestly, I didn't even pay attention," Walden said of the rumors. "Not until people would tell me. But if nobody told me what was going on, I wouldn't have known. I was more focused on doing what I needed to do."
Manager Mike Scioscia said that he'd only use Albert Pujols at third base in an emergency. "We're establishing some depth [at third base]," Scioscia said.
Scioscia is still weighing his options in regard to the top two spots of the lineup. On Monday he named Erick Aybar, Alberto Callaspo, Peter Bourjos and Bobby Abreu as options, saying, "We're going to search for some table-setting chemistry, and once we find it, hopefully we'll be able to keep it."
Reliever Kevin Jepsen, who had his knee cleaned out in late August, has been cleared to throw off the mound and fully participate in Spring Training workouts. Jepsen, 27, was a key member of the Angels' bullpen in 2009 and 2010 but struggled last year before the surgery.
The Angels have hired former big leaguers Jeff Cirillo and Gary Varsho as pro scouts.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.