Bulger, Stokes first of callups for Angels
Relievers return after going through rehab at Triple-A
SEATTLE -- Veteran relievers Jason Bulger and Brian Stokes were the first of the Sept. 1 callups by the Angels, both rejoining the club after going through rehab at Triple-A Salt Lake for lingering shoulder problems. Bulger has appeared in 22 games this season, Stokes 15.
"I'm excited to get back out there and step on a Major League rubber," said Bulger, a durable and valuable member of the 2009 Angels bullpen who has been on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain since June 11. "The adrenaline will be pumping. I can't wait."
Stokes, acquired over the winter from the Mets for Gary Matthews Jr., has been making his recovery virtually side by side with Bulger, going through many of the same exercises and drills. Stokes has been sidelined since May 10 with right shoulder fatigue.
"The ball's coming out of my hand good, no discomfort," Stokes said. "I did what I needed to do to get healthy, and I'm ready to go. I wanted to prove I could go back-to-back, multiple innings. I've done that. I hate missing all that time, but I can't be too hard on myself. It was an injury. I'm going to go back out 100 percent and show what I can do at this level."
Bulger and Stokes are close friends, and that helped in the rehab process.
"It's frustrating being on the DL," Bulger said. "Stokes is a buddy of mine, and we had a lot of talks back and forth, trying to help each other out."
Wood, six Halos prospects to play in AFL
SEATTLE -- The Angels expressed a desire for Brandon Wood to play winter ball and get more at-bats in the wake of his disappointing season, and his destination will have the distinct feel of home.
Wood, who calls Scottsdale, Ariz., home, will play for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League, where he found a groove five years ago and kept it with a league-record 14 homers and 32 RBIs. The versatile infielder has a wedding planned with Lindsey Stratton for December.
Wood will be joined by four Angels pitching prospects -- right-handers Ryan Brasier, Stephen Geltz, Eddie McKiernan and southpaw Robert Fish -- along with infielder Andrew Romine and outfielder Jeremy Moore.
Wood has struggled all season finding a comfort zone in the batter's box after opening the season as the club's starting third baseman. He didn't let his struggles with the bat have a negative impact on his defense, performing capably at shortstop as well as third. He also has the ability to play first effectively.
Moore, a 23-year-old left-handed hitter from Shreveport, La., has had a breakout season at Double-A Arkansas. Not known as a hitter-friendly environment, he's batting .310 with 24 steals and 71 runs scored. He was a sixth-round Draft pick in 2005.
McKiernan, 21, is 3-2 with 27 saves and a 3.52 ERA for high Class A Rancho Cucamonga. A 17th-round Draft pick in 2007 out of Monrovia (Calif.) High School, he's a little guy (5-foot-11, 160 pounds) with big-time stuff. Romine is considered one of the organization's premier athletes.
Angels employ 110th lineup of season
SEATTLE -- In his never-ending search for lineup chemistry that clicks, Angels manager Mike Scioscia experimented with some new groupings in the series finale on Wednesday night against the Mariners and lefty Jason Vargas.
Getting a rare start, at shortstop, was Brandon Wood. It's his third start since July 17, a span of 39 games during which he has had 15 plate appearances.
Reggie Willits, a .329 career hitter against the Mariners who has batted .311 since July 1, got his second shot at leading off, followed by Alberto Callaspo and Howard Kendrick. Torii Hunter, in the midst of an 18-game RBI drought, remained in the cleanup spot, with Mike Napoli fifth and Juan Rivera, at first base, batting sixth.
Bobby Abreu and Erick Aybar were given the night off. Hideki Matsui was batting seventh against the southpaw Vargas, and Wood was in the eighth spot ahead of Peter Bourjos, who has come alive with the bat.
"We're in the business of winning games -- we're going to keep playing baseball," Scioscia said, having drawn up lineup No. 110 in 136 games. He'd been asked if he would be throwing some prospects into the fire when Triple-A Salt Lake wraps up its season on Tuesday.
When Jered Weaver takes the mound on Saturday in Oakland, he'll be looking for a run -- any old run will do. The Angels have been shut out in Weaver's past three starts. He's tied with the Mariners' Felix Hernandez for the MLB lead with 200 strikeouts. ... Before the season, Weaver mentioned 200 innings as one of his goals. He's at 182. ... Jeff Mathis, who began the season looking like an All-Star after a brilliant postseason, hasn't been the same since going on the DL April 20 with a fractured right wrist. Mathis is in a 5-for-51 tailspin at the plate, but his defense lately has been first-rate. ... Nightly Mark Trumbo update: Salt Lake's blazing-hot first baseman went deep again, No. 34, driving in two runs in a 7-6 win over Fresno. Trumbo is batting .301 with 115 RBIs and a .576 slugging percentage. Kevin Frandsen had two doubles and a steal and has six hits in his past 11 at-bats. Terry Evans stayed hot with a double, triple and two singles in a perfect night. He's batting .542 with nine RBIs in five games. Yet another player who had some time with the Angels this season, Cory Aldridge, banged a double and single and has six hits in past 11 at-bats.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.