The other shoe finally dropped Saturday and fell right on the head of Grant Green, the hot-hitting utility player who was sent to triple A so the Angels could bolster their bullpen with right-hander Cory Rasmus.
The move fortified young slugger C.J. Cron as the team's primary designated hitter and backup first baseman and gave veteran DH Raul Ibanez, who is hitting .143 with three home runs and 20 runs batted in, time to find his swing.
Green hit .359 in 22 games, and he is far more versatile than Cron, with an ability to play four infield positions and left field. He made 15 outfield starts in May, developing into an adequate defender.
But Cron's power, clutch hitting and ability to spell first baseman Albert Pujols on days Pujols starts at DH gave him a considerable edge over Green. Cron, 24, began Saturday night's game against the Chicago White Sox with a .299 average, three home runs, eight doubles and 14 RBIs in 28 games.
A two-out, two-run double in the fourth inning of the Angels' 8-4 victory over the White Sox improved Cron's average with runners in scoring position to .444 (12 for 27) and his average with runners in scoring position and two outs to .533 (eight for 15).
"Another tough conversation," Manager Mike Scioscia said of Green's demotion. "Grant definitely has shown what he can do in the major leagues, but we have to get back to 12 pitchers, and I think the first base coverage with C.J. is important. The situation is fluid, but right now, this was a move we had to make."
The right-handed-hitting Cron began Saturday with a higher average against right-handers (.313) than left-handers (.282), so there is not as much motivation for Scioscia to platoon him with the left-handed-hitting Ibanez.
"There will be plenty of right-handers Raul will match up with, and C.J. is a great option against left-handers," Scioscia said. "But when a guy is performing well, he will get more looks."
Green performed extremely well during his five-week big league stint, but his next looks will come for Salt Lake.
"I talked to him before he left, and he was obviously kind of upset," Cron said of Green. "I told him I'm sorry to see him go. He did everything he can to stay, but you can't play with 26 guys. Unfortunately, that's how it works sometimes."
On the plus side for Green, he did not have to stick around to face White Sox ace Chris Sale, who began Saturday night's start with a 5-0 record and 1.59 earned-run average and had held left-handers hitless in 32 at-bats.
The 6-foot-6, 180-pound left-hander, who delivers a 95-mph fastball, slider and changeup from a three-quarters-arm slot, was 3-0 with an 0.38 ERA in six appearances against the Angels and did not give up a run in 162/3 innings of two victories over them in 2013.
"Everything is flying at you, elbows and knees, and it's tough to pick up the ball," said Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who broke up Sale's perfect game with a seventh-inning single in Chicago on May 12, 2013. "He's deceptive, for sure. He makes you jump when you're at the plate. It's always tough facing guys like that."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times