Of all the horrendous pitching performances Sunday--and there were plenty in the Angels' 18-2 exhibition loss to the San Diego Padres in Tempe Diablo Stadium--it was a third-of-an-inning stint by reliever Mike James that concerned Manager Marcel Lachemann the most.
With closer Lee Smith's status uncertain because of off-season knee surgery and reliever Bryan Harvey unable to start the season, the Angels are counting on James to make the transition from middle reliever to possible set-up man for Troy Percival.
But James has been inconsistent this spring, giving up 12 hits and six earned runs in seven innings for a 7.71 earned-run average.
The right-hander relieved starter Chuck Finley in the fifth inning with two outs and a runner on first.
He gave up a single to Rico Rossy and a two-run double to Brian Johnson before retiring Luis Lopez on a groundout.
"I'm very disappointed in James--he's going to have to kick it up a gear," Lachemann said. "He has a good sinker but has gotten a lot of balls up, and a lot of his pitches have been flat. We have alternatives, but he's an important part of the bullpen; he's got to get things ironed out."
Several other pitchers who combined to give up the Padres' 25 hits Sunday--one day after five Angels combined on a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants--may not have any more time to iron things out.
The second round of cuts are expected today, relievers Ben VanRyn (a third of an inning, three runs), Willie Fraser (1 2/3 innings, two runs) and Joe Rosselli (two-thirds of an inning, six runs) didn't enhance their chances Sunday.
Finley suffered his first subpar spring start, giving up five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.
"I guess they're paying us back for yesterday's no-hitter," Percival said.
Smith took a significant step in his recovery Sunday, throwing 10 minutes of batting practice and showing virtually no ill effects from a ruptured patella tendon in his right knee.
If he can handle defensive drills today, Smith could pitch as early as Wednesday, Lachemann said.
Reserve infielder Damion Easley, who hasn't played the field because of a shoulder injury, was sent to the team's minor league camp in Mesa Sunday so he could get more at-bats as a designated hitter in exhibition games. He'll remain there for a few days "until we can get him ready to play," Lachemann said. "He threw well today, but the question is, can he do that every day? He's not at that point now."