Notes: Peralta still standing

Notes: Peralta still on roster

CHICAGO -- Joel Peralta is finding himself in the right place at the right time, and he figures he'll ride the wave as long as it lasts.

Peralta was called up when closer Francisco Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 23. Rodriguez was activated Wednesday, but Peralta ducked the latest roster move when the club opted instead to send down right-hander Chris Bootcheck.

"I was a little bit surprised, because when I came up it was for Frankie," Peralta said.

Peralta had a rough first half during Spring Training, when his location was mostly over the middle of the plate. But he finished strong and was a late candidate to open the season in the Angels bullpen, but was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake, where he was 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 16 relief appearances.

"Coming into camp we knew what kind of arm he had, but he finished strong and carried that into Salt Lake," manager Mike Scioscia said. "That has been apparent here."

Peralta throws a fastball, a slider and uses his split-finger as his out-pitch. The right-hander is capable of closing games; he had seven saves with the Stingers, but will be called on mostly for middle relief and some late duty.

The loss of Bootcheck means the Angels will mix up the long-relief chores between Esteban Yan and Jake Woods, but there are a number of relievers who can go multiple innings. If the club needs a spot starter, he'll come up from Triple-A.

"We have the versatility we need in our pen," Scioscia said. "I don't think there is one dedicated long guy."

Good pace: The Angels posted a 17-11 mark in May, which was sixth best in the Major Leagues. The Padres were tops with a 22-6 record, but adding pressure to the Angels were the Rangers, who were second in basebal with an 18-7 clip during the last month.

With two losses in Chicago to open their four-city, 12-game road trip, the Angels fell out of first place in the American League West for the first time this season, but Scioscia said there is plenty to be encouraged about and the idea the team has been struggling is a bit of a misperception.

"When you're not hitting, your team looks flat," Scioscia said. "If there are some offensive breakdowns, it seems that is where the lion's share of attention is given."

The offense has picked over the last few games and the club entered Wednesday's series finale with the White Sox 10th in batting average, eighth in runs scored and eighth in RBIs. But the Angels find themselves within a game of the division lead and are trailing largely because the Rangers have rattled off nine straight wins.

"We're pitching well and closing games and we're manufacturing runs when we need to, to win," Scioscia said.

Angels' starters posted a 3.21 ERA in May, second in the Majors.

Gamesmanship: Brendan Donnelly has no doubt heard before to not put his hands in his mouth, but now he's hearing it from the umpires.

For the second straight night Wednesday, Donnelly was called for putting his hand to his mouth while on the mound. Each time he was charged a ball and it is something he knows he must rid from his routine.

"It is a habit," Donnelly said. "It is a habit [like the one] I have eating bacon cheeseburgers."

Donnelly felt that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was alerting the umpires to the gesture and commended him for trying to help his team win, but felt there was a better way to go about it.

"Ozzie's trying to get in my head; he's calling balls," Donnelly said. "Win the game the way you've been winning games."

Either way, Scioscia said it can't continue.

"He's got to stop that. There is not doubt about it," Scioscia said.

   Kelvim Escobar  /   P
Born: 04/11/76
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Stretching out: Kelvim Escobar threw 84 pitches in his last start, his first after returning from the disabled list with a bone spur in his right elbow. Scioscia said his right-hander won't be on a hard pitch count for his start Friday in Boston, but will top out in the 90-100 pitch range.

Escobar has been on the DL twice this season, missing a total of 32 games.

Playing time: Casey Kotchman started at designated hitter for the second straight night Wednesday, his most likely position if he is going to break into the lineup with the Angels.

"It is not the ideal spot for a young player, but right now it is the only spot to get him at-bats," Scioscia said. "Hopefully, he will swing the bat the way he was swinging it down in Salt Lake and see if he is capable of helping us."

Kotchman overcame an 0-for-17 start to hit .268 with nine doubles, a homer and 26 RBIs in 48 games with the Stingers.

On deck: The Angels fly to Boston and will be off Thursday before beginning the second leg of their four-city road trip with a three-game series against the Red Sox on Friday. Escobar will face Boston left-hander David Wells. Game time is 4:05 p.m. PT.

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