ARLINGTON, Texas — The Angels’ bullpen suffered a major blow Tuesday when Scott Downs was put on the 15-day disabled list because of shoulder strain, an injury that could sideline the veteran left-hander for several weeks.
“We’re comfortable with the fact this won’t push him back too far, but he might need a couple of weeks for this to settle down,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “Right now, it’s a minor issue, and we want to keep it that way.”
Downs, 37, was replaced on the roster by left-hander Hisanori Takahashi, who was called up from triple-A Salt Lake and joined the team for Tuesday night’s game against the Texas Rangers.
Downs has a record of 1-1 with a 2.57 earned-run average and nine saves in 38 games. He has been very tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .193 average. His loss could be felt acutely against teams like the Rangers, which feature left-handed sluggers such as Josh Hamilton and Mitch Moreland.
With Downs out, right-hander Ernesto Frieri will be the primary closer, and right-hander Kevin Jepsen will be the primary set-up man. Veteran right-handers Jason Isringhausen and LaTroy Hawkins will assume more prominent late-inning roles.
“It hurts us as far as some of the matchups we’ll be able to use later in the game, turning switch-hitters around and neutralizing power,” Scioscia said. “But there’s no doubt the arms we have are good, and hopefully they’ll be able to hold leads as well as we have been.”
Downs was nearly untouchable for the first three months of the season, with an 0.30 ERA through 32 games. But he struggled in his last six appearances, giving up eight earned runs and eight hits, including the only two home runs he has given up this season, in five innings.
Downs, whose injury was confirmed by an MRI test Tuesday, said his shoulder problem didn’t flare up until Friday night, when he threw a scoreless inning against Tampa Bay.
“It didn’t bother me until Friday — it’s not an excuse for what happened the last couple of weeks,” Downs said. “I don’t know how long I’ll be out for, but I’m hoping it’s only a two-week deal.”
Takahashi, who is 0-2 with a 4.37 ERA in 33 games, was demoted to Salt Lake on Saturday when the Angels needed a roster spot for starter Zack Greinke. He won’t be used as a left-handed specialist, “but we’ll need him to match up against some lefties in the middle innings,” Scioscia said.
Dan Haren scratched
As expected, right-hander Dan Haren, who tweaked a muscle on his right side Friday night against the Rays, will not make Wednesday night’s scheduled start against the Rangers. Garrett Richards will pitch Wednesday, and Scioscia has penciled in Haren for Sunday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.
Haren, whose lower-back injury sent him to the DL in early July for the first time in his career, played catch Tuesday but did not throw off a mound. But he is making considerable progress recovering from his injury.
“When I first got hurt, I thought the DL was a possibility,” Haren said. “But it’s getting better, and I feel a lot better today than I did yesterday.”