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Angels starter Hector Santiago unable to shine

Angels starter Hector Santiago unable to shine
Angels starting pitcher Hector Santiago sits in the dugout during the second inning against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. (LM Otero / Associated Press)

This should be Hector Santiago's time to shine. With ace Garrett Richards among a quartet of injured Angels starting pitchers, the team could use a veteran leader, an arm that could reliably last into the seventh inning and relieve the burden on a weary bullpen.

On Wednesday, for the second consecutive start, Santiago failed to last even three innings. He was ejected in his previous start, yanked in this one.

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Santiago's performance Wednesday was particularly discouraging, since the Angels handed him a 4-1 lead.

"That's just not a good effort from Hector," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He really struggled with everything."

The Angels had scored three runs in the first two games of the series, but they scored four in their first two at-bats Wednesday. The Texas Rangers got two runs back before Santiago got an out in the bottom of the second inning, tied the score before the inning was done, and took the lead for good when he was done in the third inning.

"You were there, right? You saw it," Santiago said. "Just an all-around bad day."

Santiago lasted at least six innings in each of his first four starts. He has done so once in his six subsequent starts, with a 6.35 earned-run average in that span.

He made the All-Star team last season, with a 2.33 ERA in the first half. In 25 starts since then, he has six victories, with a 5.09 ERA.

If he cannot reverse that trend, he might not be valuable enough for the Angels to trade him for a good prospect should they fall out of contention, or for the Angels to keep him next season by tendering him a contract that would include a raise from his $5-million salary.

Skaggs on his way back

Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs could resume pitching in the minor leagues as soon as this weekend, a significant step toward what would be his first major league appearance since July 31, 2014.

Skaggs had Tommy John surgery shortly thereafter and spent all of last season rehabilitating his left elbow. He opened this season at triple-A Salt Lake, but he has not pitched since April 20 because of what the Angels called soreness in his left biceps.

Scioscia said Skaggs would throw a bullpen session Wednesday and could rejoin Salt Lake as soon as this weekend.

Two weeks ago, the Angels were so strapped for pitching that General Manager Billy Eppler had to trade for journeyman Jhoulys Chacin just to complete the starting rotation.

Now the Angels have a depth chart. C.J. Wilson is scheduled to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment at Class A Inland Empire on Wednesday, and Tim Lincecum could report to Salt Lake next week. That could make Wilson and Lincecum options to join the Angels' rotation in mid-June, and Skaggs could be available shortly thereafter.

Richards and Andrew Heaney are trying therapy designed to heal an ailing elbow without Tommy John surgery. If the therapy succeeds, Richards and/or Heaney could be available after the All-Star break. If the surgery is required, the pitcher would likely be out until the start of the 2018 season.

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Short hops

Left fielder Rafael Ortega hit his first major league home run. He also threw out a runner at home plate, the fifth assist for Ortega in his 21 games this season. He ranks second in the American League in outfield assists, behind Adam Eaton of the Chicago White Sox. Eaton has seven assists, in 46 games. … The Angels recalled infielder Kaleb Cowart and designated left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge for assignment. Luetge was with the Angels for three days but did not appear in a game.

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Twitter: @BillShaikin

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