6/11/2014 11:50 P.M. ET
Rehabbing Stewart is growing impatient
By Alden Gonzalez and Matthew DeFranks / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- When Ian Stewart got plunked in his left hand on May 11 and postgame X-rays came back negative, the Angels third baseman figured it'd be a week before the swelling would go down and he'd get back to playing baseball again.
It's been a month.
Stewart -- on the shelf since exiting that game at Rogers Centre -- is still dealing with lingering soreness in his left hand, even though a recent MRI revealed no structural damage. He received two cortisone injections on the hand on Friday, has been taking swings in the cage the last couple of days and is hopeful of taking live batting practice on the field by Saturday -- the final step before restarting his rehab assignment.
Stewart began a rehab assignment on May 25, but left the Triple-A team after two games because his hand was not ready.
"I'm trying to get over that last hump of the soreness, and it's kind of lingering," said Stewart, who was batting .176 with two homers in 24 games before going down. "I tried to push through it the first time, and it probably set me back an extra two weeks. So I'm more just trying to take it a little slower this time so I'm not having to start all over again."
Santiago makes case to remain in rotation
ANAHEIM -- Hector Santiago had a tendency to over-complicate matters earlier this year, but he has a very simple perception of his current situation.
"It was my job," he said, "and I lost it."
Santiago made a strong case to regain his job as a member of the Angels rotation on Tuesday, when the 26-year-old left-hander fired six shutout innings against a first-place A's team that ranks fourth in the Majors in OPS, walking just one batter, scattering three hits and striking out a season-high eight.
He was a far cry from the guy who went 0-6 with a 5.19 ERA in his first seven starts of the season, prompting the Angels to replace him with Matt Shoemaker in the rotation, and even the guy who just posted a 6.43 ERA in three Triple-A starts.
Santiago gave up six runs (four earned) on 11 hits in six innings in his most recent outing for the Salt Lake Bees, but said he "threw the ball great" and cautioned not to pay much attention to the line score.
Conditions in the Pacific Coast League can be that harsh sometimes.
"I can say six or seven of the hits were probably outs if the game started 45 minutes later," Santiago said. "The way the sun was, the left side of the infield basically had no chance."
Santiago focused more on the fact that he was commanding all of his pitches and didn't issue any walks. The biggest difference was that he was "driving through the zone" and not "hopping to home plate" like he was earlier in the year.
Driving toward home plate, rather than drifting from side to side in his delivery, was a major point of emphasis in Santiago's three weeks in the Minor Leagues. At one point on Tuesday -- a 2-1, 14-inning win by the Angels -- he felt himself falling into old habits, so he stepped off the mound, drew a straight line from the rubber to home plate with his shoe and told himself, "Just go through it."
Suddenly his cutter was a lot more crisp, and he was consistently spotting his fastball glove side -- two traits that had eluded him all year.
And pretty soon, when Tyler Skaggs returns from a right hamstring strain that isn't expected to keep him out much longer than two weeks, the Angels could have an interesting decision on their hands again.
"That's the Hector Santiago that can go out there every time he gets the ball and pitch like that," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Maybe not always the same results, but the way he went after hitters, the way he brought his other pitches into the game. It was textbook."
Young relievers stepping up in Angels' bullpen
ANAHEIM -- The Opening Day roster did not list any of them, but Angels relievers Mike Morin, Cam Bedrosian and Cory Rasmus have made their presence felt with key performances in the last week.
Bedrosian, 22, has appeared in three games for the Angels, sporting an inflated 7.36 ERA after a three-run, two-thirds of an inning outing in Houston. In his most recent outing Tuesday night against Oakland, he went two innings, striking out two and giving up a hit in crucial extra-innings frames against the A's.
"Just staying in the zone, getting ahead of hitters," Bedrosian said. "When you get ahead of hitters, it makes it easier to set up the battle each time."
Bedrosian, Morin, 23, and Rasmus, 26, all appeared in the Angels' 14-inning 2-1 win over Oakland on Tuesday night, combining for five innings and allowing one run.
Morin, who made his debut April 30, has appeared in 17 games with a 1.50 ERA while solidifying himself as a key reliever for the second-place Angels. Despite giving up a run Tuesday to the Athletics, Morin has allowed a run in just four appearances and has a 0.94 WHIP.
"Guys are going to get hits, it's part of the game, you're going to walk guys, nobody's going to be perfect," Morin said. "It's important those times that runners do get on that we get out of it, even when it's one run, keeping the ballgame close."
Rasmus rejoined the Angels before Saturday's game against the White Sox after 25 days away from the big leagues. In his two appearances this six-game homestand, Rasmus has registered a win both times while throwing four innings of shutout ball.
Rasmus faced the minimum 12 hitters in the last two games, striking out four.
"It's all about getting another opportunity and coming up here and making the most of it," Rasmus said. "All I can do it go out there and try to get people out with the opportunities I'm given. Fortunately for the team, when I've gotten people out in my innings, we've happened to score runs."
The trio's performances have made it tough for the Angels to get rid of them, holding veteran relievers Dane De La Rosa and Michael Kohn down in Triple-A Salt Lake. The pair was optioned June 3.
Angels sign 14 Draft picks, five of top 10
ANAHEIM -- The Angels have signed 14 of their 40 selections from last week's First-Year Player Draft, including five of their first 10 picks, but none of their first three.
First-round pick Sean Newcomb, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Hartford, and second-rounder Joe Gatto, a right-hander from St. Augustine Prep in New Jersey, are among those remaining unsigned. Newcomb was the 15th-overall selection, which has a slot value of $2,475,600. While Gatto, as the 53rd-overall selection, is slotted at $1,050,600.
The Angels selected 22 pitchers and 18 position players in the 2014 Draft. Thirty-seven of their picks were from colleges and three were in high school.
• John McDonald was in the starting lineup for the first time since May 16 on Wednesday, replacing David Freese at third base. McDonald hit ninth.
"David is struggling a little bit the last couple of days," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's really been swinging the bat well in the last week."
After a 8-for-19 (.421) stretch over six games, Freese went 0-for-9 Sunday through Tuesday.
McDonald has appeared in 29 games, mostly as a late-game defensive replacement, and is hitting .258 this season.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.