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BOSTON -- Mike Napoli looked and sounded a deep shade of blue as he prepared to return home to Orange County with his Angels teammates following a seven-game swing through the Eastern time zone.
"I'm probably not too close" to returning to the active list, Napoli said as he packed in front of his Fenway Park locker. "I tried to run in Toronto and it tweaked on me again. I need to let it calm down, let it heal. I'm back to where I was before."
Square one is not a good place to be for a talented and valuable No. 1 catcher with a first-place team with September on the horizon.
Jeff Mathis and Ryan Budde have performed admirably and capably with Napoli out since July 28 after straining his right hamstring on the basepaths the night before.
His toll of games missed reached 22 with Sunday's series finale against the Red Sox -- 12 more than Napoli missed when he suffered a deep bone contusion of his left shin making a tag on Baltimore's Melvin Mora for the final out of a July 1 victory at Camden Yards.
Mathis has been an iron man in his best friend's absence, appearing in 21 consecutive games, 19 as a starter. He yielded to Budde on Sunday, the wear taking a toll on his offense. His double on Saturday night against Curt Schilling, completed with an athletic slide to avoid a tag, was only his second hit on the trip.
"He's been able to catch and pick up the slack," Napoli said of Mathis. "He's got to keep that going."
Napoli was in a nice groove with the bat, going 6-for-15 (.400) with a homer and two RBIs after coming off the DL on July 18. Calling his return to the inactive list "pretty frustrating," he said he's taken all the treatments available but the area remains inflamed.
Manager Mike Scioscia indicated there might be minor strategic adjustments when Napoli returns, but he won't put a harness around his receiver when he gets on base.
"You have to play the game all out, with everything you have," Scioscia said. "If you're hamstrung, you can't do that.
"You can't play with a hamstring that's 50 percent without being at risk. If you have only 70 percent to give, you give 70 percent. What happens if you start to dilute or take away your athleticism is that you're putting yourself at risk for a lot of things. I've seen more guys get hurt trying not to get hurt than anything else."
Second baseman Howie Kendrick will remain in Triple-A Salt Lake for at least another "day or two, until our pitching [depth] gives us some clarity how we're going to get through these next few days," Scioscia said.
Kendrick, recovering from a broken left index finger that has had him on the DL since July 9 (34 games), singled in four at-bats in a 2-0 loss on Saturday to Fresno. He's batting .300 in Pacific Coast League competition after taking a .297 average to the DL.
Maicer Izturis has eased the loss of Kendrick with solid, at times spectacular, play -- including more power than anyone could have anticipated. Izturis' .401 slugging mark is not far from Kendrick's .431, and he has 35 RBIs in 217 at-bats compared to 18 in 195 at-bats by Kendrick. Reflective of his offensive efforts, Izturis was the designated hitter on Sunday with Erick Aybar at second.
Gwyn up, Jones down:
Right-hander Marc Gwyn rejoined the Angels from Salt Lake on Sunday, with fellow right-hander Greg Jones returning to the PCL.
Gwyn, 29, made his Major League debut with the Angels on July 29 against Detroit, pitching one scoreless inning. He's 1-1 with 14 saves and a 3.10 ERA in 42 games at Salt Lake.
Jones has appeared in nine games for the Angels this season with a 6.23 ERA in 8 2/3 innings. He gave up an RBI single to Jason Varitek and his wild pitch allowed another run in Boston's 10-5 win on Saturday night.
Holding up physically:
There are the usual bumps and bruises related to the long grind, but the Angels are in fairly decent shape physically, apart from the absences of Napoli and Kendrick.
"It's not unlike any clubhouse in the Major Leagues," Scioscia said. "I think everybody's going to be nicked up. We'll get our second wind here and play well. Guys have been able to play through and hold out through some injuries.
"We've had a lot of games on this trip, games on [artificial] turf, split doubleheaders . . . they've played hard. That's a good sign."
Tim Schoeninger (9-3 at Class A Cedar Rapids, 5-3 at Class A Rancho Cucamonga) had 11 of the Quakes' 19 strikeouts in a 6-4, 11-inning win over Bakersfield on Saturday. He did it pitching only 5 1/3 innings. Jose Arredondo had four punchouts in two scoreless innings, and Doug Brandt finished with three strikeouts in two innings. Aaron Cook added one K in 1 2/3 innings.
On Aug. 19 in Angels history:
Bobby Grich had a homer and two singles, driving in three runs in a 4-2 win over Toronto in Anaheim that kept the 1979 Angels in first place by two games. Current Angels coach Alfredo Griffin was 1-for-4 with a steal for the Blue Jays.
Up next: Dustin Moseley (4-2, 4.84) gets the call against Phil Hughes (2-1, 4.44) in the first of three games against the Yankees at Angel Stadium at 7:05 p.m. PT.