Jaime Barria’s reward for throwing six shutout innings in Friday night’s win over the Texas Rangers was a demotion to triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday.
Such is life when you’re the low man on the major league service-time totem pole, you’re a 21-year-old rookie whose workload must be managed, and your team needs an extra position player to provide coverage for an injured starter.
With third baseman Zack Cozart missing his third straight game because of tightness in his left forearm, the Angels recalled utility infielder Kaleb Cowart from Salt Lake.
The Angels also placed struggling right fielder Kole Calhoun on the disabled list because of a right oblique strain and recalled Michael Hermosillo, who started in right field against Texas on Saturday night.
But it was Cozart’s injury, which has not been deemed serious enough for the DL, and the need for infield reinforcements that cost Barria his spot. The right-hander, who is 5-1 with a 2.48 ERA in seven starts, was sent to the minor leagues for the fourth time this season.
“It’s tough, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “This is a very young pitcher. I think his confidence is very high. No doubt, we want to make sure he’s strong for the whole season.
“And if you look at our schedule, we would be pushing some guys back so far it would have become disruptive. So we’d all be best served to have Jaime go down and get his work in and come back.”
With an off-day Thursday, the Angels won’t need a sixth starter until a three-game series in Seattle June 11-13. Barria, who threw 142 minor league innings last season, will make one start for Salt Lake.
“How many pitches will be determined,” Scioscia said, “but he needs to pitch to keep his edge.”
The immediate future of Calhoun, injured while working in the batting cage in Detroit, is more muddled. Oblique strains can sideline players for more than a month, but Scioscia doesn’t believe this injury is that serious.
“He had a little tightness on his right side, so we’re going to shut things down for a while,” Scioscia said. “Hopefully, it’s not too severe, but he definitely needs the 10 days.”
Calhoun’s play in right field has been superb. His work in the batter’s box has been substandard. He has a career-low .145 average and .374 on-base-plus-slugging percentage with one homer, 11 RBIs, 43 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Could a break from the mental and physical grind of trying to shake a season-long slump help Calhoun?
“Maybe,” Scioscia said, “but that’s not the way you want to get your break.”
When Dr. Steve Shin performed exploratory surgery to clean out damaged tissue in Matt Shoemaker’s forearm Tuesday, he found — and repaired — a torn pronator teres tendon that had not appeared on an MRI test, providing relief — and some closure—for a pitcher who for two months was mystified by the injury.
“The tendon was split right down the middle,” said Shoemaker, who was sidelined after his first start of the season. “He said that it’s not normal, that he’s never seen it before, and it was right where my symptoms of pain were.”
Doctors told Shoemaker he could start playing catch in about six weeks. If he avoids setbacks in his throwing program, he could return by early August.
“I was down to two options, either have an exploratory procedure or try to throw though it,” Shoemaker said. “Being a tough guy, I wanted to throw through it, but I tried that four times, and each time it’s been the same. I’m thankful I had the procedure, because they never would have found this.”