Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/2/12
ANAHEIM, Calif. Last June, Jerome Williams was ready to give up baseball. Players have those kinds of thoughts when their careers fall into a tailspin, as Williams' had in 2011. All the promise he showed as a 21-year-old kid dissolved into one last chance with an independent league team, the Lancaster Barnstormers. "I was basically one game away from calling it quits," Williams said late Tuesday night. "I just took the time to say, I've got to do it." His comeback is nothing short of amazing. Now a starter in the Angels' rotation, Williams pitched a complete game shutout against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium his first shutout since 2003 when he was a phenom with the San Francisco Giants. Williams is older now, and wiser. He sat in front of his locker with his 2-year-old son Tai in his lap and talked about how far he has come. His career with the Giants flamed out in 2005. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs that season but spent more time in the minors than in the big leagues. He was 0-5 for the Washington Nationals in 2007 before he was released. And then he bounced around, pitching in the Twins' minor league system, signing with the Long Beach Armada of the Golden Baseball League and spending time at Single-A Inland Empire. He had a stint with a team in Taiwan. For some reason, he never lost hope even when he came close to giving up. The Angels signed him last June, essentially to fill out their rotation at Triple-A Salt Lake City. He got a shot last August and pitched well, going 4-0 and starting six games. When the Angels opened spring training this year, he had a shot to make their rotation. How is he different now than he was nine years ago? Good question. "Smarter," he said. "I learned the game. Instead of relying on stuff, now I'm relying on what I need to do to be a pitcher location, the strike zone, different pitches, different mindset. Back then, I was young. I didn't want to listen to nobody, I wanted to throw the ball by everybody. But now I'm a pitcher." You could see it Tuesday. He retired 17 consecutive batters from the fourth inning until the ninth when he walked Denard Span. Then he struck out Alexi Castilla to end the game. Williams struck out six and retired 15 batters on ground outs. Only five balls left the infield. Williams' span between complete games was 8 years, 9 months and 14 days, the longest stretch since Lindy McDaniel went 13 years between complete games. "It's obviously been a long journey for him," manager Mike Scioscia said. That's not something Williams, 30, takes lightly. "Every day I think about it," he said. "I always take time out to thank my family, thank everybody who got me back here." All he has to do now is stick around.
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