CLEVELAND — The curious case of Dan Haren got a bit more curious Tuesday.
After getting pounding for the fifth time in as many starts, Haren finally admitted what everyone’s suspected all along: that the back pain he brought with him from spring training is a lot worse than he’s let on.
He will undergo a physical examination when the team gets back to Southern California on Thursday and a stint on the disabled list looms as a possibility.
“It’s just a matter of getting a hold of it because I’m not helping the team right now going out there and pitching the way I am,” said Haren, who lasted just 41/3 innings and allowed a season-high seven runs in a 9-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
“I’ve tried to suck it up a little bit and do my best out there, but first and foremost is the team. Am I helping the team or hurting the team going out there? So, we’ll go from there.”
Haren, who hasn’t missed a start since college, experienced severe shooting pains in his back during a bullpen session a year ago in Kansas City. But he described the current problem as “not so much pain as stiffness” and said it’s been lingering all season.
It wasn’t as troublesome early in the year, with the right-hander turning in quality starts in seven of his first 11 outings. But he fell apart in the last month, with his earned-run average jumping to 4.86. In his last five starts, he has allowed 26 runs in 27 innings.
On Tuesday, the Indians had less trouble with Haren than they did with the weather, which delayed the game twice for a total of an hour and 41 minutes.
Shin-Soo Choo got things started, driving Haren’s fourth pitch to the center-field wall for a triple and scoring two batters later. Cleveland added two runs in the second, and got a solo home run from Shelley Duncan in the fourth.
Then, after the Angels got homers from Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to take a 5-4 lead in the fifth, Haren gave it right back in the bottom of the inning when Cleveland scored three times.
“It’s not so much that it’s affecting my velocity but it’s not really allowing me to be able to power the ball down in the zone,” Haren said. “I don’t know. We need to get something figured out. We need to change course here because it’s been bugging me for awhile.”
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia agreed.
“We need to get a handle on it,” said Scioscia, who met with assistant general manager Matt Klentak and pitching coach Mike Butcher after the game to discuss their options, which aren’t good. The Angels are already down one starter, and Jerome Williams, on the disabled list with a respiratory issue, was hit hard — literally and figuratively — in his first minor league rehab start for Salt Lake, giving up six runs in two-plus innings, during which he also took a line drive off his arm.
Haren’s next scheduled start is Sunday, the final game before the All-Star break.
“We’ll take him back, get it evaluated this time and get direction from the medical department and talk to Dan to see how he’s feeling,” Scioscia said. “It’s still up in the air right now.”