Angels fans may be wondering who’s on ... well, name the base
CHICAGO — All the pieces seemed to fall into — and, in one case, out of — place this season for the Angels to have their most regular lineup in years.
The infield was set. The trade of Kendrys Morales to Seattle assured that Peter Bourjos, a favorite of General Manager Jerry Dipoto, would start in center field and slugger Mark Trumbo would have a spot.
And the March trade of outfielder Vernon Wells to the Yankees removed any temptation for Manager Mike Scioscia to tinker with the lineup by playing Wells too much.
So much for that. A sore left foot and right knee relegated first baseman Albert Pujols to designated hitter for the fourth straight game Saturday. Bourjos (left hamstring strain) is on the DL. Shortstop Erick Aybar, who missed 18 games in April because of a left heel bruise, was sidelined by a tight right hamstring.
Luis Jimenez, who played one minor league game, in 2007, at first base, started there Saturday. Journeyman Brendan Harris was at short. Had Chicago started a right-hander, J.B. Shuck would have been in left field, where he started the previous 10 games.
It was Scioscia’s 21st different lineup in 36 games.
“Injuries are part of the season,” Scioscia said, “and they definitely will reflect on the depth of an organization.”
Harris, who homered Thursday and Friday, Jimenez, who filled in for injured third baseman Alberto Callapso for three weeks in April, and Shuck have made positive contributions. The Angels have had a much tougher time absorbing injuries to ace Jered Weaver and relievers Ryan Madson, Kevin Jepsen and Sean Burnett.
The bullpen has struggled, though it threw 52/3 scoreless innings in a 7-5 win over the White Sox on Friday night. The heavy workload forced the Angels to recall right-hander Robert Coello from triple-A and send outfielder Scott Cousins to Salt Lake on Saturday.
Coello will be the 20th pitcher used this season. The franchise record is 29 pitchers in 1996.
“The strain is when your pitching staff starts to get hit and you have to generate depth,” Scioscia said. “Wanting to fill that void and filling it are two different stories.”
Close to return
Ryan Madson won’t assume the closer role when he comes off the DL, but he is close to pitching for the Angels. His fastball touched 94 mph during a 19-pitch inning in an extended spring-training game Saturday, and he will begin a minor league stint for Class-A Inland Empire on Monday.
Madson will probably make two or three minor league appearances, but he could join the Angels after only one game.
“You don’t want a guy down there wasting bullets if he’s ready,” Scioscia said. “He does need a little work, but he doesn’t need to be stretched out to 30 pitches.”
Jepsen (shoulder strain) was very encouraged by his 20-pitch bullpen workout Saturday, the first time he’s thrown off a mound in three weeks. … Weaver (fractured left elbow) threw 40 pitches Saturday, fastballs and changeups, in his second bullpen workout on his path toward what he hopes is a late May return.
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