CLEVELAND -- One back ailment to Dan Haren, and suddenly the Angels -- a team that has led the American League in staff ERA for most of the year -- don't appear to have much starting pitching depth.
With Haren likely missing his scheduled Sunday start (perhaps more), Jerome Williams still working his way through a rehab assignment, Ervin Santana going through a roller-coaster season and the farm system not having much Major League-ready pitching, the Angels look like a club that could use more in that department.
But don't expect them to be active in talks for Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels, or any other premium starter before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
General manager Jerry Dipoto wouldn't comment specifically on those players, but sources have said the Angels are unlikely to make major moves before July 31. They don't see many feasible upgrades becoming available, their payroll isn't very flexible, and the shrinking compensation in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement makes it hard to justify picking up a rental player like Greinke or Hamels.
Dipoto, of course, will keep his options open and will leave no stone unturned. But in his mind, addressing starting pitching isn't any more critical today than it was yesterday.
"I don't necessarily believe so," he said, before Santana gave up eight runs in 1 1/3 innings against the Indians on Wednesday. "I'm not going to get into hypotheticals -- and we'll evaluate Danny's situation and then develop a game plan accordingly -- but I can't say I woke up this morning thinking we were under any pressure to make a move at the Deadline to help our starting pitching. We were six deep starting the day, and that's the benefit of having the depth in starting pitching that we started the season with. I think, right now, our focus is more geared toward how to get Dan Haren back to what he used to be from a back-health perspective to contribute for the second half."
Haren, who's 6-8 with a 4.86 ERA on the year, will have his lower back evaluated when the Angels return to the West Coast on Thursday. He revealed after another rough outing on Tuesday that he tweaked it during his final Spring Training start and it's been "an issue pretty much the whole year."
The immediate focus is to fill Haren's Sunday spot in the rotation. Williams, on the disabled list due to an asthma attack he suffered after his June 18 start, probably needs at least one more rehab outing (likely on Friday), making Triple-A starters Brad Mills or Greg Smith seem like the two best options to pitch that day.
"We're going to wait and see where we are tomorrow, see what we're presented with," manager Mike Scioscia said. "If Dan can't go, then some decisions will have to be made."
Problem: After Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards, Santana, Haren and Williams, the Angels don't have much to work with.
"We're thin [in the Minors]," Scioscia said. "We've talked about that for a while. But it's the type of thing that if your organization starting-pitching depth is nine guys, you want 10. If it's 10 guys, you want 11. You need to have that depth."
On the mend, Iannetta anticipates next step
CLEVELAND -- Angels catcher Chris Iannetta, who hasn't played since May 8, is satisfied with where he's at with his throwing program and feels confident that he'll be able to progress toward a rehab assignment soon.
Iannetta has failed to get to that stage twice already. Coming off surgery to his right wrist, he pushed his throwing program too hard in early June and suffered a right forearm strain, then had to be shut down with the same issue a second time a couple weeks later.
But Iannetta has thrown twice since restarting his throwing program this week, backing up to about 150 feet and experiencing no soreness. He hopes to throw to bases soon, which would mark the final stage before a rehab assignment -- and doesn't anticipate any setbacks this time.
"I think earlier I was just treating it like normal Spring Training, instead of like I was coming off an injury, and I got a little carried away," Iannetta said. "But I've been feeling good, taking it step by step, and I'm hoping to just keep progressing."
Vernon Wells (right thumb surgery) began throwing this week and is expected to start swinging a bat next week. He hopes to return by late July.
Mark Trumbo will be the first Angels player to participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby since Vladimir Guerrero won it in 2007, and the fifth overall. Trumbo leads the Majors in average home run distance, at 421 feet.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.