Notes: Donnelly back in the mix

Notes: Donnelly back in the mix

ANAHEIM -- Brendan Donnelly returned from his eight-day suspension Saturday and struck out three in one inning of work. The reliever, who was suspended for having pine tar on his glove during the Angels' June 14 game against the Nationals, should help shore up the bullpen, which posted a 5.50 ERA while Donnelly was out.

"That was the toughest part of the whole suspension thing, because prior to that we were playing good baseball," Donnelly said. "It's nice to be back, knowing that we're back to full strength."

Since suspended players can't be removed from the 25-man roster, the Angels had to play a man short while Donnelly was out. To stay sharp during the layoff, Donnelly threw two bullpen sessions and also pitched a simulated game in Rancho Cucamonga against some of the Class A Quakes hitters.

While Donnelly said he was "lucky" rather than sharp against the Mariners on Saturday, manager Mike Scioscia was pleased with what he saw.

"It was especially good, after a leadoff double, to see what he was able to do," Scioscia said. "He did a good job against some tough bats."

Donnelly, who was 6-2 with a 3.55 ERA this season entering Sunday, will try to help the Angels close the door on innings a little quicker. In the first three games of the Seattle series, 19 of the Mariners' 26 runs scored with two outs.

"I don't know if it's a lack of focus by our staff, but making the final pitch of the inning is usually the toughest pitch of the inning," Donnelly said. "Nobody wants to be that last [hitter] that walks off the field, whether it's in the inning or the game."

Finley nearly there: Center fielder Steve Finley played Saturday in Lake Elsinore for Class A Rancho Cucamonga, going 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and two runs scored. Sunday morning, he was at Angel Stadium to hit in the cage.

"He felt good [Saturday] -- everything from his bat speed to how he came out of it today was good," Scioscia said.

Finley, on the disabled list since June 22 with a right shoulder strain, will be activated Thursday.

"Only time's gonna tell if this thing can be maintained," Scioscia said. "It doesn't make sense to waste it with a lot of Minor League at-bats, since he feels good right now.

To clear room for Finley on the active roster, left-hander Jake Woods was optioned to Triple-A following Sunday's game. Woods, 23, was 1-1 with a 3.90 ERA in 27 games.

"Jake has such upside," Scioscia said. "Right now, he's having trouble finding his breaking ball, and I don't see the regular work here for him to work and find that pitch. Once he does, I think he's gonna have a prominent role on this staff."

Cabrera gets closer: Shortstop Orlando Cabrera is scheduled to resume swinging a bat over the All-Star break and is eligible to return from the disabled list Saturday.

The Angels seem to be leaning away from the possibility of a rehab assignment for Cabrera, largely because of the Gold Glover's defensive abilities.

"If he's ready to play defense, he's a part of our equation that we need," Scioscia said.

Comfortable combination: Rookie starter Ervin Santana has repeatedly credited catcher Bengie Molina with helping him adjust more effectively during games, so Scioscia did not start Molina on Saturday so that the backstop could work with Santana on Sunday afternoon.

"Ervin Santana is a work in progress, and Bengie has the experience catching him," Scioscia said. "We wanna keep those guys together so they can continue on that path."

Slow going: Reliever Bret Prinz has been on the disabled list since April 11 with a right shoulder strain and the timetable for his return remains uncertain.

"He's got some damage in his shoulder that's really set him back," Scioscia said.

Back in action: Reliever Greg Jones, who pitched for the Angels in 2003 and suffered a shoulder injury while in the Minors last year, has resumed pitching. In 6 1/3 innings at Triple-A Salt Lake through Saturday, Jones hadn't allowed a run while striking out eight.

"He's throwing very well down in Salt Lake," Scioscia said. "He's a guy that showed the arm last year. ... He's on our depth chart, definitely."

On deck: The Angels will play the Twins in Minneapolis at 5:10 p.m. PT on Thursday in their first contest after the All-Star break. Assuming Bartolo Colon pitches Tuesday in the All-Star Game, left-hander Jarrod Washburn (5-4, 3.23) would be expected to start for the Angels.

Mark Thoma is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.