Thursday will mark seven weeks since Geovany Soto underwent surgery for torn cartilage in his right knee. The stated prognosis was four to six weeks, and before four had elapsed the veteran catcher was pronouncing himself ready to resume playing.
But the start of his rehab assignment was delayed for precautionary reasons, and now the end of it will be too. Once likely to rejoin the Angels on Tuesday, Soto will instead stay with triple-A Salt Lake at least through Thursday.
He could meet the team for the final series of the first half, in Baltimore beginning Friday. Or he could rest until July 15, when the Angels start their second half at home against the Chicago White Sox.
"We'll see how he comes out of it," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "With the rehab process, sometimes there's just stiffness in your legs. Nothing connected with the injury, really. Just peripheral stuff. We want to make sure to get that out so he doesn't pull a quad or hamstring just by staying on some schedule."
Before he succumbed to injury, Soto had taken over primary catching duties from second-year player Carlos Perez. Since then, Perez has drawn about two-thirds of the starts, with rookie Jett Bandy handling the remaining games.
Soto, 33, is on a one-year contract and a candidate to be traded by the Aug. 1 nonwaiver deadline. He recorded an .822 OPS in 17 starts before getting injured while working out on an elliptical.
Jose Alvarez is sent down
The Angels optioned left-hander Jose Alvarez to Salt Lake to create room for pitcher Nick Tropeano on the 25-man roster.
Since he opened the 2015 season on the Angels roster, the 27-year-old Alvarez had been a mainstay in Scioscia's bullpen. He has a 3.81 earned-run average in 104 innings, but the Angels were concerned with the amount of pitches he has thrown behind in the count.
This season, Alvarez has 22 strikeouts and one walk when he records a strike with the first pitch of a plate appearance, but he hasn't done so as often as he did a year ago. His departure leaves the Angels without a left-hander in their bullpen and without a clear choice to match up with left-handed-hitting opponents.
"We'll see how this evolves," Scioscia said. "Right now we don't have the luxury nor that person in our organization to be that lefty specialist. We'll have some right handed arms and hopefully they'll do what they need to do to hold leads."
Left fielder Jefry Marte took a 95-mph fastball from Matt Moore off the side of his left knee. He stayed in the game, homered and was removed from the game because of a bruise. Scioscia said Marte should be fit to play Tuesday. … Right fielder Kole Calhoun had a scheduled day of rest. He was available to pinch-hit, but Tampa Bay orchestrated its bullpen usage to dissuade Scioscia from using him in such a manner.