Notes: Casey returns with bat

Notes: Casey returns with bat

CHICAGO -- The call came about two months later than he would have liked, but Casey Kotchman is back up with the big club.

The first baseman was promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday to replace outfielder Curtis Pride, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right wrist.

Kotchman was the Angels' hottest hitter during Spring Training, but was unable to carve out a niche with the big league club. In Salt Lake, Kotchman started in an 0-for-17 hole before slowly climbing out. In 48 games with the Stingers, Kotchman hit .268 with nine doubles and 26 RBIs, and enjoyed a strong May when he hit .324.

"The hits started to fall," Kotchman said of breaking out of his early slump. "I couldn't say what it was."

Kotchman is a natural hitter and is most likely to see time at designated hitter and the occasional pinch-hitting appearance while he is up with the Angels. Also coming from the left side, Kotchman is not a natural solution to sub for Darin Erstad. With southpaw Mark Buehrle on the mound Monday afternoon, right-handed hitting Robb Quinlan got the call at first base in place of Erstad.

But the 22-year-old is ready to take on any task the club has for him.

"I'm just going to show up each day and do whatever needs to be done," Kotchman said.

Kotchman played 38 games with the Angels last season, hitting .224 with six doubles, and was included on the playoff roster and had one at-bat against the Red Sox in the ALDS.

With Quinlan, Chone Figgins, Jeff DaVanon and Josh Paul all able to log time in the outfield, the Angels feel they have that area covered as Vladimir Guerrero remains on the DL with a partially dislocated left shoulder, allowing the club to get a look at Kotchman.

"That versatility allows us to bring Casey up and get his bat into the lineup," manager Mike Scioscia said.

Scioscia feels that Kotchman is similar to Dallas McPherson and Quinlan as players trying to establish themselves.

"It is one thing to make it to the Major Leagues, but it is tougher to get those footprints set," Scioscia said. "We have a couple of guys doing that. (Kotchman) got a taste of the big leagues. I think he knows what it is all about."

More tests: Pride suffered the wrist injury while swinging the bat during Saturday's 14-1 win over the Royals. X-rays were negative, but the outfielder will have an MRI taken Tuesday and then will be examined by hand specialist Dr. Norman Zemel. The initial diagnosis was tendinitis.

Day off: Erstad is batting .235 against lefties this season and even though he is 5-for-16 in his career against Buehrle, Scioscia opted to give Erstad a chance to watch Monday's game from the dugout.

"I'm not hurt; I just haven't been hitting lefties all that well," Erstad said. "I've hit them decent in the past, but this year has been different. I haven't found that slot. I'm trying to figure it out, but I haven't found it yet."

Erstad had a career .277 average against left-handers coming into this season.

Step-by-step: Guerrero is running and throwing, but has yet to incorporate catching into his rehab routine. Guerrero suffered the injury while making a headfirst slide at Dodger Stadium on May 20, but is still a week away from picking up a bat.

Guerrero will be eligible to come off the DL on June 5 when the Angels are in Boston, but with the club heading to Atlanta and then to Shea Stadium during a six-game Interleague swing, it is unlikely Guerrero will be activated until they return to Anaheim on June 13.

With no designated hitter in National League parks, Guerrero can only play if he's fully recovered and able to play both sides of the ball.

"When he's ready to swing we'll try to put him into the lineup," Scioscia said, but added that not being able to play in the field might delay his return.

Lineup: In addition to Quinlan for Erstad at first, Jose Molina was the DH on Monday and batted seventh. Over his last three games, Molina was 6-for-8 with three RBIs

Prospect, no more: Ervin Santana made his first start at Triple-A on Sunday and picked up where he left off. The right-hander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before allowing a triple and a two-run homer. Working 6 1/3 innings, Santana took a no-decision in the Stingers 4-2 win.

"He's gone from a guy that we hoped would surface on our depth chart to a guy who is a solid No. 6 starter," Scioscia said.

Santana made two starts for the Angels and picked up his first Major League win with a complete-game shutout of the White Sox.

On deck: The Angels will play the second game of the three-game series with the White Sox on Tuesday at 5:05 p.m. PT. Right-hander John Lackey will face Chicago right-hander Freddy Garcia.

Mike Scarr is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.