No matter what the critics or doubters might think, Jered Weaver still believes he can be an effective pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels.
Looking to continue his recent success against the visiting Texas Rangers, Weaver makes his belated season debut Sunday when the Angels try to avoid a third straight defeat.
Though his velocity has dipped and the 7-12 record with a 4.64 ERA in 26 starts was the worst of his 10 seasons, the 33-year-old Weaver is eager to finally take the ball and prove wrong those who believe he should call it a career.
"Haters equal motivation for me," the right-hander told the Angels' official website. "I feed off of it."
The three-time All-Stars' first start was pushed back because of neck and shoulder problems, but it's his velocity that remains an issue.
Over the past two seasons, Weaver's fastball went from an average of 87.5 miles per hour to 84.3. It barely topped 80 in spring training but hit 86 during a simulated game this week.
"You have to have confidence," he said. "You don't go out there with 80 miles an hour and not have confidence. Has it been fun? No. But I'm not going to let the opposing people know that.
"I still have to go out there and know that even though I don't have my good stuff that those guys are still on their toes because I still know how to pitch, regardless of what I'm throwing up there."
Weaver has had the Rangers are on their toes while going 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA in his last six starts in the series. He allowed one run over six innings in each of his 2015 starts against Texas, getting no-decisions both times.
Though their starters have a dismal 5.74 ERA on the young season, the nine runs the Angels have scored has been a bigger reason for their 1-4 start.
Mike Trout is 4 for 11 since going 0 for 8 in the first two games but does not have a RBI. Albert Pujols is 2 for 20.
Trout had one of the Angels' five hits and Pujols drove home the run in Saturday's 4-1 defeat.
''We're a good club, and I truly believe that,'' Saturday's losing pitcher Garrett Richards said. ''I don't think there's anything to worry about. I don't think anybody's panicking in here."
Adrian Beltre had three hits, including his first homer, as Texas (3-3) won its second straight after losing 4-3 in Thursday's series opener. Beltre is batting .409 with two homers and eight RBIs in his last five games against Los Angeles.
Texas' victory, however, was clouded after catcher Robinson Chirinos suffered a broken right forearm.
''Obviously a blow to us, but this is the kind of thing that galvanizes this group," manager Jeff Banister said. "They pull together and play with a little more fever and passion."
Scheduled Texas starter Martin Perez is 1-1 with a 2.36 ERA in four starts against the Angels. However, that one defeat came while he's gone 0-6 with a 5.25 ERA in nine road starts since winning at Oakland on April 23, 2014.
The left-hander gave up two runs, two hits, walked four and hit a batter over six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 10-2 home loss to Seattle on Tuesday.
Trout and Pujols were a combined 2 for 9 against Perez in 2015.