The injury bug that has decimated the Angels lineup and put an early dent in the rotation claimed the team's most consistent and reliable reliever Tuesday when Justin Speier was put on the 15-day disabled list because of a non-baseball related medical condition.
Privacy rules that were added to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and reinforced in baseball's collective bargaining agreement last year prevent the Angels from revealing Speier's condition without his consent, and the right-hander was not in Angel Stadium on Tuesday.
Speier said Sunday he was experiencing flu-like symptoms and fatigue, and there appears to be concern among team officials that he might have some kind of viral syndrome, perhaps similar to the one that sidelined first baseman Casey Kotchman for all but 29 games last season.
"We hope not," Manager Mike Scioscia said, when asked if Speier could be out for an extended period of time, "but we want to evaluate it on a daily basis. It got to the point where he was weak, having trouble sleeping, stuff that all comes with that."
Speier, who signed a four-year, $18-million deal last winter, has a 1.69 earned-run average with 17 strikeouts and five walks in 15 appearances. He has stranded all 13 of his inherited runners, but he hasn't pitched since April 30.
"I'm not knowledgeable enough to comment about what's going on with him, what he has, or to what degree," Kotchman said. "But he's a tough guy and he loves to compete. For him to be on the DL because of it is pretty significant."
The Angels were carrying an extra pitcher, so to replace Speier on the roster they recalled first baseman Kendry Morales.That means Hector Carrasco and Dustin Moseley will assume more prominent late-inning roles, and more of a burden could be placed on set-up man Scot Shields and closer Francisco Rodriguez, especially if the Angels have a rash of games in which they hold slim leads in the later innings.
"He takes a lot of pressure off Scot and me, because we don't have to throw one-plus innings as often," Rodriguez said. "I know there are going to be situations when we need him, but the rest of the guys are going to have to step up."
Paul Kinzer, the agent for Rodriguez, will be in Southern California next week, but not to hammer out a contract extension for the closer. The sides have been discussing a four-year extension since spring training but still appear far apart.
"I wouldn't say it's off the table, but there's no sense of urgency right now," Kinzer said. "We're both open to it."
The Angels optioned infield prospect Brandon Wood back to Salt Lake after the game and recalled infielder Matt Brown, who was hitting .290 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 29 games at triple-A. "Brandon needs to play," Scioscia said. "It's tough to keep young guys on the bench who need to play." . Bartolo Colon, pulled from the eighth inning of Sunday's game because of a mild triceps strain, probably won't attempt to throw again until Thursday, at which time the Angels will determine whether he can make Saturday's start at Texas . Infielder Maicer Izturis (tight right hamstring) ran a series of 90-foot sprints Tuesday and said he felt "ready to play." He is eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday.
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