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Mound visits become an issue for the Angels

The Angels have run low on relievers many times this season.

On Tuesday in Houston, they reached "empty" in an area related to the bullpen: mound visits.

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When catcher Martin Maldonado met with rookie reliever Justin Anderson in the seventh inning, it marked the sixth and final visit allowed under MLB's new rules.

Manager Mike Scioscia suggested the circumstances Tuesday often concerned communication and signs.

"Those mound visits, although we seemed to rifle through them, they were all necessary and needed," he said. "I think they did have an impact."

Anderson, who made his big league debut Monday against the Astros, "got a little sideways on some things" Scioscia said, necessitating three meetings with Maldonado during a four-batter appearance in the seventh inning.

The rookie escaped the inning, leaving the bases loaded. The Angels went on to win 8-7.

The seventh inning also featured shortstop Andrelton Simmons repeatedly moving in front of multiple Houston baserunners at second base apparently in an effort to shield them from seeing the Angels' signs.

A similar potential sign-stealing situation last week resulted in a near-altercation between the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies.

Scioscia said the onus in such cases falls to the team on defense.

"You change your signs," he said. "That's part of baseball. If we're going to be negligent in how we're giving our signs and other teams can pick them up, then that's on us."

No blister problems

On the day after Shohei Ohtani's latest start, Scioscia said the blister on the rookie's right middle finger remained a nonissue.

Ohtani has developed a callus in the area and, as was the case for him in Japan, the right-hander doesn't foresee it being a problem.

"Shohei really feels if he goes out and pitches and it feels good, it usually doesn't bother him the whole season," Scioscia said. "That's what we're hoping for."

Ohtani gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings Tuesday. Afterward, the Astros praised him, manager A.J. Hinch saying Ohtani's combination of a 100-mph fastball and a darting split-finger pitch "could put a little bit of fear in you."

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