The Angels are considering removing Scott Lewis out of the starting rotation, Manager Buck Rodgers said, and replacing him with Julio Valera. Lewis, 1-1 with a 4.71 ERA in his four starts, has not pitched longer than six innings this season. He's yielding a .295 batting average, allowing 23 hits and three homers in 21 innings.
"If one of our first four guys got removed from the (rotation) for whatever reason," Rodgers said, "I'd be hesitant to move Scotty into the first four spots. Lewis' chances of staying in the big leagues are a lot better with him in the bullpen than starting and risking overexposure. So by putting Julio back in the rotation, we might be doing both guys a favor."
Lewis, who opened the season on the disabled list with a bruised right elbow, began the 1992 season in the rotation but was demoted to triple-A Edmonton after two starts. This time, however, Rodgers says that he deserves to remain with the team.
Valera, who has struggled this season pitching in the bullpen for the first time in his career, could start Tuesday against the Mariners in Seattle.
The Angels also are paying attention to Russ Springer, who allowed only one hit in six innings Sunday at triple-A Vancouver, but likely will wait until he strings together a few impressive outings. "He still needs to work on his control," Rodgers said. "He doesn't have an overpowering fastball, and although he has a good curveball, it's not one he can throw a lot of strikes with right now."
Angel reliever Gene Nelson, who is yielding a 1.64 ERA, will move into the setup role once Valera leaves the bullpen, Rodgers said. Nelson, who was signed for only $300,000 to a non-roster contract, appears to have reverted to his form of three years ago when he was the setup man for Dennis Eckersley at Oakland.
Nelson, who worked extensively with trainer Ned Bergert this spring strengthening the muscles surrounding his shoulder blades, said his fastball finally has returned. He has been clocked consistently in the low 90s all season. "I've proven more to myself than anything else," Nelson said. "It's taken a lot of work, but I feel I'm close to be back to where I was with Oakland."