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OC Register: Manager Mike Scioscia monitoring Angels’ bullpen, but not more than usual


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ANAHEIM — No question, the Angels’ bullpen was overworked to start the 2018 season. Their relief corps needed to be monitored and protected as much as possible as the days and weeks passed and their starters failed to pitch deep enough in games.

Matters seemed to be changing for the better, with Angels starters posting a 2.14 ERA in May, the fourth-best mark in the majors. Handoffs from their starters to their relievers continue to be problematic, however, with Friday’s bullpen collapse the latest case in point.

Manager Mike Scioscia tried to avoid using Jose Alvarez, Kenyan Middleton and Jim Johnson on Friday, giving them a rest after they pitched Thursday. Instead, Scioscia stayed with Justin Anderson, who gave up three runs in 1-1/3 innings in the Angels’ 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Middleton is the only Angels reliever to have pitched three consecutive days, and he ended up on the disabled list because of a right elbow inflammation after throwing April 21-22-23. Three consecutive days of throwing now seems to be the no-go zone.

Scioscia insisted Saturday that he’s not more concerned about overtaxing his bullpen than in the past. The Angels’ new six-man starting rotation this season also is not a reason for keeping a closer watch on their relievers than usual, according to Scioscia.

The Angels have seven relievers to go with a six-man rotation used to accommodate Shohei Ohtani, a rookie from Japan who is pitching and serving as a designated hitter this season. Even if the Angels had eight relievers, Scioscia said he would keep a close watch on his bullpen.

The starters simply haven’t chewed up the needed innings to give the bullpen a break, he said.

“You always pay a lot of attention to your bullpen,” Scioscia said. “But when you’re in the situation that we’ve been in for the first quarter of the season, you certainly have to pay more attention to it. We’ve been fortunate to have mostly an eight-man bullpen, which helps for the first 40 games.”

Seven relievers should be plenty, as far as Scioscia is concerned.

“Our issue has been for a lot of the first quarter of the season is we were averaging 14 outs from a lot of the rotation,” he said. “That’s a lot for you bullpen to pick up every night. We’re protective of every pitcher in our bullpen. They need a day (off), they get a day.”

OHTANI WORKLOAD UPDATE

The Angels hope Ohtani will shift from pitching every seven days to every six days, which was their game plan going into the season. When it happens is anyone’s guess, although the Angels finally have six healthy starters with the return of Nick Tropeano from the disabled list Saturday.

“Hopefully, Shohei will be able to come back on a six-day rest instead of a seven-day,” Scioscia said. “As he gets comfortable and starts to get innings under his belt, hopefully, he’ll be able to recover and be able to do that at some point. It will help us a lot.

“(But) we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.”

COVERING THE BASES

The Angels sent reliever Akeel Morris to Triple-A Salt Lake in order to make room for Tropeano on the roster. Tropeano, who started Saturday against the Twins, had been on the disabled list because of shoulder inflammation since May 2.

Reliever Blake Wood is scheduled to make a rehab appearance with Class-A Inland Empire on Monday, Scioscia said. Wood, a right-hander, has been on the DL since April 23 because of an impingement in his right shoulder.

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