Angels have to adjust bullpen on the fly
Sketch out a plan in pencil only to see it go sideways, and best to have an eraser at the ready. And then a quick new plan.
The Angels figured they had this bullpen thing under control going into spring, boasting three relievers who had experience closing — Huston Street, Cam Bedrosian and Andrew Bailey.
Now all three are on the disabled list. That makes for one busy eraser.
“I would say our bullpen has done a tremendous job under these circumstances,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Not only trying to rework it on the fly … to try to rework that with the aspect of length and the aspect of guys you’re going to pitch in high-level situations to hold leads.
“A lot of these guys have been challenged and I think they’re holding up very well.”
Right-hander Bud Norris, 32, was signed as a non-roster invitee just before camp opened. He figured as a long man. He’d been in the majors seven years and never had a save. Now he has earned the last two for the Angels.
The bullpen has at least held its own through the first 22 games. It has a middling 4.20 ERA but is seventh in the American League in opponent batting average (.240) while compiling a league-high 75 innings.
Scioscia had originally planned to use his best reliever in what’s become more fashionable, in late high-level situations and not wedding him to the ninth.
“What you have to do is understand the talent you have and how all the pieces can work together,” Scioscia said. “We had some depth earlier and we talked about Cam maybe going in certain points of the game, knowing you had depth behind him.
“Until we get some depth in the bullpen, that strategy is not going to work for us. So we are definitely going to match up.”
First baseman C.J. Cron is only one of several Angels off to a slow offensive start, but he’s the one being given time off to adjust his swing. Cron sat for the third consecutive game Wednesday after going four for 27 (.129) in eight consecutive starts.
“He understands some of the mechanical things he needs to adjust,” Scioscia said. “It’s not an overall thing, it’s a simple adjustment to when he’s going well, [what] he does.
“Hopefully it won’t be a long time. He definitely feels good about what he’s doing.”
Luis Valbuena (hamstring) played in his third rehab game for the Class-A Inland Empire 66ers on Wednesday. Scioscia said he would need five to seven games before joining the Angels. … Right-handed reliever Kirby Yates, designated for assignment Sunday, was claimed by the San Diego Padres. … Tuesday’s win was the 1,500th of Scioscia’s career. … Wednesday marked the 16th day of a 20-consecutive game stretch for the Angels.