07/30/10 9:31 PM ET
Trailing in AL West, Angels look inward
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Just don't try telling manager Mike Scioscia this is a pivotal series or that a sweep of the Rangers is essential.
"It's obvious a lot of stuff is magnified when the team comes in that you're trying to chase," Scioscia said before right-handers Ervin Santana and Tommy Hunter hooked up in the series opener, Hunter bringing an 8-0 record into the game for Texas.
"We have to look in-house. It doesn't matter if it's the Bad News Bears or '27 Yankees you're playing. It's obvious the last couple weeks there have been some areas that are very important to us that we haven't tightened up.
"I worry about us not playing to our potential -- not another club. We haven't seen a team yet we can't play with. I care about what's happening with the Angels. When we play to our potential, there's not a team we can't play with -- and win [against]. It's obvious we have not been playing well. We're going to regroup and get this thing going."
The offense has stalled for the 52-52 Angels, three-time reigning AL West champions. They have hit .211 as a team and scored 2.9 runs per game while losing six of the past seven to the Rangers and Red Sox.
In need of pitching, Halos option Frandsen
ANAHEIM -- Kevin Frandsen never saw this coming. A ticket on the Salt Lake shuttle, with a return to Triple-A and the Pacific Coast League, was the last thing on his mind on Friday after the season he has had for the Angels, hitting .288 and handling the corner infield positions professionally.
He got the word before the Angels opened a big three-game series against American League West-leading Texas that he was being sent down to create roster space for pitching help. With the club two starters (Joel Pineiro, Scott Kazmir) down, Trevor Bell and Bobby Cassevah were recalled to fill gaps and plug holes.
"I did everything I could," said Frandsen, the former Giants second baseman who was claimed by the Angels on April 29 after Boston put him on waivers and arrived with a bang. "It's not like I was doing anything negative. Everyone who was in the room [manager Mike Scioscia, general manager Tony Reagins] told me that.
"I'm very, very lucky to have the opportunity to have gotten picked up by this organization, that's the main thing. In the big picture, I'm happy with where I'm at as far as my health and my ability to play at a high level. After the injury I had [torn Achilles in 2008], everyone was skeptical. I showed I can run again. I played a lot of positions -- even left field one day. I want to play this game a long time -- at the Major League level, not the Minor League level."
Frandsen played nine games with Salt Lake before joining the Angels with a bang (three hits) on May 8 in Seattle, and he earned 34 starts at third base and four at first. He batted .340 in May and June with a career-high eight-game hitting streak.
"Kevin showed us a lot," Scioscia said. "He showed us he's a Major League player. For certain he's on our depth chart and will be looked at very closely."
Kazmir closing in on rehab assignment
ANAHEIM -- If a bullpen session on Saturday goes as well as hoped, Scott Kazmir could be on his way to a Minor League rehab assignment on Monday, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, with another next weekend bringing him into the picture for the club's fractured rotation.
Kazmir said he "felt good, with better range of motion" following a bullpen session on Wednesday, when he threw all fastballs. He'll add some offspeed stuff this time and feels his shoulder, which sent him to the 15-day disabled list on July 11 with what was described as fatigue, will let him know if he's ready to face live competition.
"I'll know as soon as the bullpen is over," Kazmir said. "I should have a good idea what their plan is. I felt very comfortable on Wednesday -- good arm speed, staying through the ball. Those were good signs, so I'm optimistic."
Kazmir was not with the club last season when Joe Saunders -- sent to Arizona in the Dan Haren swap -- experienced shoulder irritation and was shut down for three weeks in August. Saunders returned two days before Kazmir was acquired from Tampa Bay and went on a dynamic run down the stretch, winning his final seven decisions with a 2.55 ERA.
"Hopefully," Kazmir said, grinning, "something similar will happen to me." Struggling with consistent command primarily of his slider, the 26-year-old Houston native is 7-9 with a 6.92 ERA in 17 starts. He was a two-time American League All-Star with the Rays and league strikeout king in 2007.
Angels assess position on trade market
ANAHEIM -- If the Angels are about to make any more big moves before Saturday's 1 p.m. PT non-waiver Trade Deadline, they will be as unexpected as the two they made on the recent road trip, acquiring Alberto Callaspo from the Royals and Dan Haren from the D-backs in exchange for six players, including starters Joe Saunders and Sean O'Sullivan.
"If there's an opportunity to make us better," manager Mike Scioscia said, "of course we'll consider it."
General manager Tony Reagins maintained that the club is not in the selling mode.
"We will continue to look at guys who could help us," Reagins said. "We're still looking forward, trying to improve. If that means acquiring a player, so be it."
The Rangers, leading the American League West by 8 1/2 games over the Athletics and nine games over the Angels, added two more pieces in infielders Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman with the Deadline approaching, fortifying a club that already had been enhanced by the arrivals of ace Cliff Lee and veteran catcher Bengie Molina.
If the Angels alter their course and elect to sell off veteran merchandise for young talent and payroll flexibility this winter, they'd have no trouble finding buyers for the likes of closer Brian Fuentes, outfielder Bobby Abreu and infielder Maicer Izturis, with designated hitter Hideki Matsui and outfielder Juan Rivera also possibilities.
Dan Haren, having recovered from a line drive off his right forearm by Boston's Kevin Youkilis in his Angels debut, is set to go on Saturday night against Rangers right-hander Rich Harden. A three-time All-Star, a run that ended this season, Haren's talents don't end on the mound. The guy can swing the bat. Manager Mike Scioscia probably wouldn't consider it -- especially after the shot Haren took from Youkilis -- but Haren is hitting .364 with a homer and seven RBIs this season in 55 at-bats. He's a .226 career hitter, and that's after going 2-for-37 in his first two seasons with the Cardinals before moving over to Oakland and the American League in 2005. ... Summoned from Triple-A Salt Lake along with fellow right-hander Bobby Cassevah, Trevor Bell will be available in relief in the Texas series, Scioscia said. Bell is the Angels' probable starter in their series opener at Baltimore on Tuesday night, but Scioscia said the decision has not been made. Bell said he will learn from his experience against the Rangers on Sunday night, when he lasted only 3 1/3 innings in a 6-4 loss. "If I get the call, I'll be ready to go," Bell said. "I wasn't as aggressive as I need to be in that game. I'll go after guys next time." ... Angels reliever Jason Bulger, on the disabled list since June 11 with a right shoulder strain, threw a full bullpen session on Friday and hopes to start a rehab assignment soon. ... Matt Palmer, who brought so much to last year's Angels staff as a starter and reliever, has worked 9 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings at Triple-A Salt Lake and could be close to returning to Anaheim. Palmer was placed on the disabled list on May 7 with an acute sprain of the right sternoclavicular.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.