The Angels face a short-term question and a long-term question with Joe Blanton.
The short-term question: Does he make his next scheduled start? On the day after Blanton failed to complete six innings for the fourth consecutive start, Manager Mike Scioscia refused to commit to another one.
"Joe has put every effort into trying to be the pitcher he can be," Scioscia said Tuesday. "Right now, it's very clear he is struggling with some of the basic things he needs to do to be that pitcher."
Blanton, 32, is 2-13 with a 5.66 earned-run average. He leads the major leagues in losses. No major league pitcher had given up more hits, runs or home runs.
Blanton has given up home runs in 10 consecutive starts, tying the franchise record shared by Don Sutton, Jarrod Washburn and Dan Haren.
The long-term question: Can the Angels count on Blanton next season? They have guaranteed him $7.5 million, but can they really go into spring training with him as one of their five starters?
General Manager Jerry Dipoto declined to address the question directly.
"We're constantly evolving in how we look at things and what we do," Dipoto said. "Joe is having a very difficult season, a difficult three-week stretch. There have been times he's pitched effectively and it hasn't shown in the won-loss column. There have been times where he hasn't pitched effectively, like now. We're trying to get through an extended down period.
"How we do that … those are discussions we have on every player, every position, how we can improve."
Outfielder Josh Hamilton said he expects to sit out "a couple days" for treatment of a stiff right ankle.
Hamilton had X-ray and MRI examinations Tuesday. The X-rays were negative; the MRI exam showed inflammation. Hamilton received an anti-inflammatory cortisone injection and will not be available until Thursday.
Hamilton said he was not concerned about the possibility of a serious injury.
"Usually, you know when something is wrong," he said. "I don't have any inkling it is."
Hamilton, 32, was a late scratch from Monday's lineup because of the ankle stiffness.
"It's just weird," he said. "I guess I'm getting older."
He said the ankle first stiffened on him when he awoke Monday morning. With no apparent trigger for the injury, Hamilton explained how it happened this way: "I woke up."
Albert Pujols hit the 492nd home run of his career. His next home run will tie him with Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 26th on the all-time list. … Jason Vargas threw in the bullpen Tuesday for the first time since he had a blood clot removed from his armpit on June 26. Vargas could return to the Angels' rotation in 10 to 14 days, Scioscia said. … Outfielder Kole Calhoun hit home runs in each of his first three at-bats Tuesday for the Angels' triple-A Salt Lake affiliate, then singled in his last at-bat. Calhoun, 25, is batting .349 with 12 home runs in 235 at-bats. … Twins catcher Joe Mauer left the team and returned home to Minnesota as his wife went into labor and prepared to deliver … yes, twins.
Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.