ANAHEIM -- To give Ervin Santana more time to sort out his struggles during bullpens, the Angels are going to skip his scheduled start on Friday and move the other starters up one day.
With the off-day on Thursday, it allows the Angels to pitch Dan Haren on full rest Friday and C.J. Wilson on full rest on Saturday against the Rays. Santana is slated to pitch early next week on the road against the Rangers.
"He's finding his release point, finding his arm slot," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's probably in his benefit, talking with [pitching coach Mike Butcher], to get him a couple more good 'pens in to make sure that he feels good with his delivery and his arm slot."
Santana lasted just 1 2/3 innings in his last outing against Texas on Saturday, giving up six runs on eight hits. During his last 10 starts overall, the right-hander has an ERA of 8.06, but if two straight starts during that stretch where Santana had some brief success are removed, his ERA would balloon to 12.32.
The problem with Santana seems to be with his arm slot, Scioscia said. It's something that has plagued the right-hander throughout his career, especially with the way he has a number of different looks on his fastball and slider. It has started to show itself more and more recently.
The plan to limit the 29-year-old Santana to 15 outs, no matter how well he's pitching, will still stand for his next start. That, coupled with the additional work in the bullpen, is designed to help solve some arm slot problems while injecting some confidence into the struggling Santana.
"It could be a quick fix. It could be what a couple bullpens are going to fix," Scioscia said. "But we have to do it now, because if you don't do it now, and he continues to go in the wrong direction, the probability of him getting back to where we need him to be diminishes."
While Scioscia isn't committed to when Santana's next start will be, he is equally as unsure about the team's starter for Sunday, as well.
It could be Garrett Richards, who gave up four runs in the first two innings on Tuesday but settled down in the next three. Or it could be Jerome Williams, who threw four scoreless innings in relief of Richards. Both have been inconsistent during the last month.
"We'll have some options there," Scioscia said. "The way Garrett threw the last three innings is the way that we know he can pitch. The way that Jerome threw the last four innings is the way we know he can pitch. So we'll take a look at that."
Pujols out of lineup in finale against Royals
ANAHEIM -- After being hit with a pitch in the right elbow in Tuesday's game, Albert Pujols was held out of the lineup for the series finale against the Royals on Wednesday afternoon.
Pujols was hit directly in the elbow while swinging at a pitch in the third inning, and had his arm on ice following the 4-1 loss. The pitch from Royals starter Will Smith looked like a fastball, but cut late and struck Pujols in the arm.
X-Rays taken on Pujols' arm on Wednesday were negative.
"It just caught him flush," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It was really weird, the ball looked like it was a fastball in, and the last second it had a big horizontal cut to it. He started to swing and it tracked him into the elbow."
With Pujols out on Wednesday, Kendrys Morales started at first base and Torii Hunter, who bruised his ribs while diving for a ball in the sixth inning of Tuesday's game, served as the designated hitter. Scioscia said that Pujols would likely not play, even as a pinch-hitter.
"He was sore today, and we'll evaluate, and hopefully he'll come out of the day off [Thursday] and be ready to go on Friday [against the Rays]," Scioscia said.
During his last 55 games, Pujols is batting .331 with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs. He was batting .212 with three homers and 18 RBIs through his first 42 games this season. Pujols has started 97 of the team's 99 games this season.
Erick Aybar, who hasn't played since Saturday after fouling a ball off his right big toe, was feeling much better on Wednesday.
The determination with Aybar, Scioscia said, is to define what "much better" actually means for the shortstop. If Aybar is not making significant progress by the weekend towards being able to play, Scioscia said a decision regarding a trip to the disabled list will have to be made.
Head athletic trainer Adam Nevala told Scioscia that by Friday there should be more clarity with Aybar, whether it's merely a bone bruise or potentially something more. Either way, the injury isn't something the Angels feel will keep Aybar out long term.
Joe McIntyre is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.