7/23/2013 2:33 A.M. ET
Trade Deadline looming, Downs wants to stay
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
ANAHEIM - Things tend to change very quickly this time of year, but indications point to a relatively quiet nine days for the Angels leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31. They're too far back in the race and too close to the threshold at which teams are taxed 17.5 percent to be buyers, and too burdened by big contracts to be all-out sellers.
One player who may very well be moved, though, is Scott Downs, the lefty reliever who will be a free agent at season's end.
"I've been through this before," the 12-year veteran said. "I can't control what's going on on the other side. The only thing I can control is what I do out on the field to help this team win. That's the only thing I want to do. That's the only thing I'm going to worry about."
Downs figures to be an attractive name leading up to July 31, especially given the amount of teams that need relief help down the stretch. He's having a very solid season (1.32 ERA, 1.171 WHIP). He's affordable (owed the pro-rated share of a $5 million salary for 2013). He's got a great track record (a 2.30 ERA while averaging 63 appearances from 2007-12). And the Angels entered Monday's game 8 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the American League.
The Braves and Indians are among the teams that could have interest.
Downs is 37, has yet to pitch in the playoffs and would welcome an appearance in meaningful October games. But he'd like to make that happen here, and would love to find a way to stay with the Angels past 2013.
"I signed out here because I wanted to win and because of the makeup of this team," said Downs, in the final months of a three-year, $15 million contract. "I still believe, and I think everyone in this clubhouse believes, we have a chance to win. We have a chance to do something special here. So for me to say I want to leave here to go somewhere else, that's not the case. I want to win with this team and that's my mindset. Unless that changes, my mindset is on this team and this team only."
Wilson: 'We want the competition to be level'
ANAHEIM -- C.J. Wilson, the Angels representative for the Major League Baseball Players Association, called it a "big downer" to see a former MVP like Ryan Braun get suspended for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
But in no way did he defend his actions.
Players who cheat, Wilson said, "are taking something away from the other players."
"They're lying to the fans. They're lying to their teammates. They're lying to the GM, the owner, and they're going to get caught -- that's the whole point," the Angels' starter said. "We get drug tested all the time."
Wilson pointed out that one of his teammates was getting tested at that very moment. He believes that MLB has, for the most part, created a culture where cheating is not only difficult, but foolish.
"But there's always going to be one dummy that thinks he can get away with it," Wilson added. "Or, there's going to be a guy that accidentally takes something because he bought it over the counter. Ignorance is not a good policy, either. You can't plead ignorance. You have to be responsible. We're professional athletes. We're making enough money that we can take a step and look at something and say, 'You know what, I don't really know what this is. Maybe I should send it off.'"
Braun's saga stretches back to October 2011, when he was informed that a urine sample submitted after Game 1 of the Brewers' National League Division Series against the D-backs had tested positive for an elevated level of synthetic testosterone. Four months later, he became the first Major Leaguer to have a suspension overturned by an arbitration panel because his urine sample was not immediately shipped to the approved lab via FedEx.
Then, on Feb. 5, Braun joined Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz and several others as players linked to Biogenesis, the defunct South Florida "wellness clinic" under investigation for allegedly supplying players with banned substances.
On Monday, Braun was suspended and will miss the Brewers' final 65 games, plus any potential postseason games, and will forfeit nearly $3.5 million in the process.
"As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect," Braun said in a statement. "I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions."
Wilson isn't privy to the details of this investigation, but he believes that Braun is "the first domino to fall." The Angels' left-hander said that "the ultimate thing for [players], is we want the competition to be level" and admitted it's "frustrating to know that there are people that have played on performance-enhancing substances against us."
Hamilton day to day with ankle stiffness
ANAHEIM -- Josh Hamilton rolled out of bed on Monday morning and felt stiffness in his right ankle, eventually keeping him out of the lineup later that afternoon.
"I have no idea why," Hamilton said after the Angels' 4-3 loss to the Twins. "It's frustrating."
Hamilton was on the initial lineup sheet, but that was only because the coaches were huddled in a closed-door meeting, and the Angels' right fielder hadn't talked to manager Mike Scioscia. Soon after, they found out that he had been in the trainer's room getting treatment and wrote a new lineup card without him.
Hamilton, who was not available at all during Monday's game, said he has "no clue" if he'll return on Tuesday.
"I have to wake up in the morning, see what happens, see how it feels and see what they tell me," said Hamilton, who entered the week batting .223 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs. He's started 87 of the Angels' 97 games, missing time due to injuries in his right wrist and lower back, plus a bout with sinus congestion.
"Hopefully, it'll be day to day," Scioscia said pregame. "Right now, he's just not able to go tonight."
• After Monday's 4-3 loss to the Twins, the Angels optioned left-hander Michael Roth back to Double-A Arkansas in order to make room for Tommy Hanson, who will start on Tuesday.
• Jason Vargas, on the disabled list since June 21 because of a blood clot in his left armpit area, will see a doctor on Tuesday in hopes of being cleared to throw off the mound. He aims to return in two weeks.
• Hank Conger started behind the plate on Monday, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that was "not at all" related to miscommunication issues between Joe Blanton and Chris Iannetta, resulting in Blanton flipping a water cooler and getting into a back-and-forth with pitching coach Mike Butcher.
"Hank works pretty good with Joe right now," Scioscia said, "and we have to do everything we can do to get Joe on board."
• The Angels signed outfielder Cyle Hankerd from the South Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League. The 28-year-old Hankerd, originally a third-round Draft pick by the D-backs in 2006, was batting .322 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs in 81 games of independent ball. He'll report to the Angels' Double-A affiliate in Arkansas.
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.