Santana is sent to triple-A Salt Lake
In a development that seemed as inevitable as thunder following lightning, the Angels on Wednesday optioned pitcher Ervin Santana to triple-A Salt Lake after the latest in a string of unsuccessful starts.
The struggling right-hander, who was 0-5 with an 8.45 earned-run average in his last six outings, said he was not surprised by the demotion after leading the American League in such dubious categories as home runs given up (23), runs (82) and earned runs (76).
“It’s their decision, so you can’t do anything about it,” Santana, 5-11 with a 6.22 ERA overall, said Wednesday afternoon before departing the Angels clubhouse inside Tropicana Field. “Just go down and do my job and keep working hard. That’s it.”
Minor league left-hander Joe Saunders, who has fared better in five starts with the Angels this season than he has in 14 starts at triple A, will join the Angels in a few days and take Santana’s spot in the rotation for at least a couple of weeks. The Angels activated catcher Mike Napoli from the disabled list to take Santana’s spot on the roster.
Santana’s funk only deepened Tuesday when he was tagged for a career-worst 14 hits and seven runs during an 8-3 loss to Tampa Bay that marked his 11th defeat, tying him with Jose Contreras of the Chicago White Sox for the most in the AL.
Manager Mike Scioscia said sending Santana to the minor leagues “was a move that became more and more imperative as Ervin was struggling from start to start and not really moving forward....For him to move forward, we need to take this half-step backward.”
Scioscia said Santana needed to sharpen the command that had eluded him one year after he posted a team-high 16 victories and established himself as one of baseball’s most promising young pitchers. Santana said Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher also told him he must rediscover the aggressiveness that he had displayed last year, a request that appeared to confound Santana.
“To me, I don’t know what I’m going to do different,” Santana said. “To me, I’m totally fine....The results are different and I don’t know what’s going on, so I’m just going to go there and try to find it.”
Scioscia said he “absolutely” expected Santana to rejoin the Angels this season, though he did not provide a timetable.
“I don’t think he’s that far off, but that gap that was there is important and he needs to bridge it,” Scioscia said. “I think Ervin’s going to make the adjustments and get into the groove that he was, and I expect him back here.”
Saunders’ statistics this season lead credence to the long-held notion that the Pacific Coast League is a hitters’ haven. He is 3-0 with a 2.97 ERA with the Angels but only 4-7 with a 5.11 ERA with the Bees.
“Every time he’s come up [to the majors] he’s done a great job for us,” said reliever Dustin Moseley, the other leading candidate to take Santana’s spot in the rotation. “He’s kind of deserving of it, I would think.”
Napoli’s return probably means that catcher Jeff Mathis will return to triple A once Saunders joins the Angels on Friday or Saturday.... Garret Anderson was given a day off to “take a breather” but is expected to return today and play left field. Kendry Morales was the designated hitter Wednesday and Reggie Willits started in left field.
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Santana on the slide
Ervin Santana’s record over his last six starts, which culminated in his being demoted Wednesday to triple-A Salt Lake City.
*--* Date Opponent IP ER H BB SO Dec. June 15 at Dodgers 7.0 2 5 2 4 L June 20 vs. Houston 6.2 4 9 1 5 ND June 26 vs. Kansas City 5.0 5 9 2 0 L July 3 at Texas 5.1 4 7 2 11 L July 8 at New York 3.0 9 7 2 2 L July 17 at Tampa Bay 6.0 7 14 4 4 L Totals 33.0 31 51 13 26 0-5
* Earned-run average for last six starts: 8.45